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Case Study Part I. Feagin, Orum and Sjoberg defined the case study method as “in-depth, multi-faceted investigation, using qualitative research methods, of a single social phenomenon. The study is conducted in great detail and often relies on the use of several data sources.
(ibid.)” The five criteria for case selection according to Smelser (1976: 4) is as follows: “(1) appropriate to the kind of theoretical posed by the investigator… (2) relevant to the phenomenon being studied… (3) empirically invariant with respect to their classificatory criterion… (4) reflect the degree of availability of data referring to this unit… and (5) decisions to select and classify units of analysis should be based on standardised and repeatable procedures. The social issue that I have chosen is the issue of bio-ethanol production and agro-fuels – a contentious issue debated upon in an age of energy vulnerability and land shortages. The proponents of agro-fuels laud initiatives by the US government to embark on massive corn ethanol production, chiefly to decrease reliance on fossil fuels. On the other hand, its opponents argue that there are risks to small-farmers in rural places of production and can deepen inequality. The research that I have chosen was written by Gillon (2010). In the said paper, Gillon (2010, p. 723) looked at corn ethanol production in the state of Iowa, United States and looked at the dynamics and relationships between big business – i.e., the ethanol corporations – and the small farmers. He also examined the policies and politics that surround ethanol production. ...
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