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ERIC Number: EJ1044920
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-1523-1615
Vertical Case Studies and the Challenges of Culture, Context and Comparison
Bartlett, Lesley
Current Issues in Comparative Education, v16 n2 p30-33 Fall 2014
The Teachers College Symposium invited scholars to rethink culture, context, and comparison in educational research. In his response to these questions (this volume), Joe Tobin promoted comparative ethnographies to understand how social, cultural, and political processes play out across multiple locations and time periods. He urged careful empirical studies of how and why globally circulating ideas are made manifest in local practices. Specifically, Tobin recommended diachronic, video-cued multivocal ethnographic methods. In such an approach, video excerpts function as interviewing cues, prompting educators to reflect on what is shared and what is variable in educational practices that differ by time or location, as well as how cultural beliefs and practices were shaped by economic and political forces. Thus, Tobin and his colleagues invite participants themselves to explain the impact of culture on their own practices, and they fruitfully mine the basic human impulse for comparison in order to elicit contrasts in practices. Antoni Verger's response (this volume) focused more on policy making. He considered the epistemological and methodological implications of the deterritorialization of education policy processes, particularly how multiple scales interact during the policy adoption stage. He suggested that scholars should examine more carefully the role that ideas play in policy decisions and policy outcomes, and he asked "what types of ideas might be most influential in these types of processes, how and in what contextual circumstances." In this brief intervention, Lesley Bartlett offers a distinct but compatible reaction to the challenges of considering culture, context and comparison in educational research. She draws upon work she has done over more than a decade with Frances Vavrus, developing what they have called the "vertical case study" approach. In this article, she first describes the "axes" of the vertical case study. She then explains how the approach addresses the dilemmas of culture, context, scale, and comparison in ways that complement the approaches recommended by Tobin and Verger.
Teachers College, Columbia University. International and Transcultural Studies, P.O. Box 211, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A