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The Problem of “Cameo Appearances” in Mixed-methods Research: Implications for Twenty-first-century Ethnography


Amid ongoing controversies in ethnography concerning representation, reproducibility, and generalizability, social scientific scholarship has increasingly taken a mixed-methods turn. While studies that blend qualitative and quantitative data promise to enhance the validity of representations of social worlds under analysis, they cannot escape contending with foundational dilemmas of scientific translation, integration, and commensurability across methodological paradigms. Recent debates have ignited a new line of inquiry about the integration of multiple methods in ethnography. In this paper, we argue that “cameo appearances”—the summoning of either qualitative or quantitative analyses in separate, purely mono-method studies—amounts to a form of methodological tokenism under the guise of methodological pluralism. We articulate sampling design, enhanced training, and curriculum development as crucial for arbitrating these debates as mixed-methods research emerges as a distinct innovation in twenty-first-century ethnography.

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