CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

This article is intended to provide the theoretical and practical tools to allow ethnographers to strengthen their position in an increasingly multi-method environment, by presenting the existing difficulties and issues in freeing oneself from the basic tools of inferential statistics applied to populations selected for ethnographic case studies. Indeed, although ethnography claims to develop a discourse on the social world based on case studies, quantitative techniques are spontaneously combined with sample-based studies whose generalizations are rooted in statistical inference. We use an empirical example to show what is involved in subjecting an ethnographic case study to quantitative analysis, and then detail how inferential statistics and tests of significance counter and undermine case-based reasoning, ultimately advising for the adoption of a descriptive position when faced with statistics.

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