Using the extended case method to explore identity in a multiracial context

Posted in Articles, New Media, Social Science on 2009-11-07 02:26Z by Steven

Using the extended case method to explore identity in a multiracial context

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 32, Number 9
November 2009
pp. 1599-1618
DOI: 10.1080/01419870902749117

Gina Miranda Samuels, Assistant Professor
School of Social Service Administration
University of Chicago

Increasingly, multiracial research calls upon scholars to reconcile and clarify their stances on race as a biological versus a social construct and to situate their theorizing of racialized identities historically, sociopolitically and as experienced subjectively. While multiracial scholarship offers both critiques against and support for a so-called ‘multiracial’ identity, few have outlined the methodological implications of pursuing inquiry responsive to this diverse body of work. This paper highlights the methodological challenges posed by empirical inquiry pursuing nonessentialist but structurally and subjectively grounded analyses of multiracial identity. The extended case method (Burawoy 1998) is introduced as one approach that epistemologically reflects these conceptual challenges in the field. Three elements of its application within a study of black-white multiracial adoptees are offered: 1) use of fluid concepts of race and identity; 2) conducting multi-systemic analyses; and 3) using interpretative findings to extend existing theory.

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