Department of Sociology

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Comparative Biographies in Case-based Cross-national Research

In this article, published in Sociology, Julia Brannen and Ann Nilsen examines some methodological issues relating to an embedded case study design adopted in a comparative cross-national study of working parents.

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[The article] addresses issues of generalizability, in particular the importance of criteria for the selection of cases in the research design and analysis phases. To illustrate the benefits of the design the article focuses on the level of individual biographies. Three exemplars of biographical trajectories and experiences are presented and discussed. It is argued that a multi-tiered design and a comparative biographical approach can add to the understanding of individual experience by placing it in context and thus yield knowledge that is of general sociological relevance by demonstrating the interrelatedness of agency and structure.


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