Integrating Survey and Ethnographic Methods for Systematic Anomalous Case Analysis
Pearce, Lisa D. 2002. “Integrating Survey and Ethnographic Methods for Systematic Anomalous Case Analysis.” Sociological Methodology 32(1):103-132.
This paper describes how the salience of research findings can be enhanced by combining survey and ethnographic methods to draw insights from anomalous cases. Using examples from a research project examining the influence of religion on childbearing preferences in Nepal, the author illustrates how survey data can facilitate the selection of ethnographic informants and how semistructured interviews with these deviant cases leads to improved theory, measures, and methods. A systematic sample of 28 informants, whose family size preferences were much larger than a multivariate regression model predicted, were selected from the survey respondent pool for observation and in–depth interviews. The intent was to explore relationships between religion and fertility preferences that may not have been captured in the initial multivariate survey data analyses. Following intensive fieldwork, the author revised theories about religion’s influence, coded new measures from the existing survey data, and added these to survey models to improve statistical fit. This paper discusses the author’s research methods, data analyses, and resulting insights for subsequent research, including suggestions for other applications of systematic analyses of anomalous cases using survey and ethnographic methods in tandem.