Comparative Case Study Analysis

This page deals with the set of methods used in comparative case study analysis, which focuses on comparing a small or medium number of cases and qualitative data. Structured case study comparisons are a way to leverage theoretical lessons from particular cases and elicit general insights from a population of phenomena that share certain characteristics. The content on this page discusses variable-oriented analysis (guided by frameworks), formal concept analysis and qualitative comparative analysis.

The Chapter summary video gives a brief introduction and summary of this group of methods, what SES problems/questions they are useful for, and key resources needed to conduct the methods. The methods video/s introduce specific methods, including their origin and broad purpose, what SES problems/questions the specific method is useful for, examples of the method in use and key resources needed. The Case Studies demonstrate the method in action in more detail, including an introduction to the context and issue, how the method was used, the outcomes of the process and the challenges of implementing the method. The labs/activities give an example of a teaching activity relating to this group of methods, including the objectives of the activity, resources needed, steps to follow and outcomes/evaluation options.

More details can be found in Chapter 20 of the Routledge Handbook of Research Methods for Social-Ecological Systems.

Chapter summary:

This video introduces the concept of Comparative Case Study Analysis.

Method Summaries

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Case Studies

Comparative case study analysis: Comparison of 6 fishing producer organizations

Dudouet, B. (2023)

Lab teaching/ activity

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Tips and Tricks

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Key Publications related to Comparative Case Study Analysis:
  • Basurto, X., S. Gelcich, and E. Ostrom. 2013. ‘The Social-Ecological System Framework as a Knowledge Classificatory System for Benthic Small-Scale Fisheries.’ Global Environmental Change 23(6):  1366–1380.
  • Binder, C., J. Hinkel, P.W.G. Bots, and C. Pahl-Wostl. 2013. ‘Comparison of Frameworks for Analyzing Social-Ecological Systems.’ Ecology and Society 18(4): 26. 
  • Ragin, C. 2000. Fuzzy-Set Social Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Schneider C.Q., and C. Wagemann. 2012. Set-theoretic Methods for the Social Sciences. A Guide to Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Villamayor-Tomas, S., C. Oberlack, G. Epstein, S. Partelow, M. Roggero, E. Kellner, M. Tschopp, and M.  Cox. 2020. ‘Using Case Study Data to Understand SES Interactions: A Model-centered Meta-analysis of SES Framework Applications.’ Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.