Extended-Case Studies—Place, Time, Reflection

in Social Analysis

Extended-case studies originated and flourished in multiple sites in Central Africa as British colonialism waned. The extended-case study method was created and shaped in response to complex social situations that emerged from and through ongoing and at times profound changes in the ways in which social and moral orders were put together. The extended case and situational analysis have from their very beginnings been cognate with complexity in social ordering, with the non-linearity of open-ended social fields, and with recursivity among levels of social ordering. Manchester methods originated as a result of profound shifts in the practice of anthropology and contributed to turning these changes into the practicing of ethnographic praxis. Yet over time, the explicit valuing and evaluating of Manchester perspectives disappeared from view. Witness the inane, reductionist comment by George Marcus (1995: 110) (a member of the American lit-crit hit mob of the 1980s), limiting “the extended-case method” (with no mention of Manchester) to “small-scale societies,” where it has been “an established technique … in the anthropology of law” (with no mention of Gluckman).

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Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology