Case Study Research

hardtofindcurtainUrban and Civil

Nov 16, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

99 views

Case Study Research

Qualitative Methods in Social
Research 2010
-
2011

Alice Mah

Outline


Introduction: what is a case study?


Case study research design


Contrasting theoretical views


Case study
rationales and varieties


Research methods and process


Discussion: advantages and disadvantages


Case study research example


Conclusion and workshop discussion





What is a case study? 1/2


A research frame or design


‘…a strategy for doing research which involves an
empirical investigation of a particular
contemporary phenomenon within its real life
context using multiple sources of evidence.’ (Yin
1994)


‘… those research projects which attempt to
explain holistically the dynamics of a certain
historical period of a particular social unit.’
(Stoecker 1991)


What
is a case study?
2/2


Intensive vs. extensive


Holistic: attending to interrelationships


Contextual:


Internal context (eg. detailed analysis of internal
social processes, Burawoy)


External context (eg.
n
ecessarily reified
characterisation of external social forces,
Burawoy)


Choose the case study method:


When a ‘how’ question is asked of a contemporary vs.
historical phenomenon, in a situation in which the
researcher has little control, and when the boundaries
between the phenomenon and the context are not
clearly evident (Yin 1994)



For producing ‘exemplars’: ‘Good social science is
problem driven and not methodology driven in the
sense that it employs those methods that for a given
problematic, best help answer the research questions
at hand.’ (Flyvberg, 2006, p 242)


Case study research design


Start with research questions or propositions


Define spatial and temporal
boundaries
around the case
: the unit of analysis (an
individual, a country’s economy, a community,
an industry, a policy, a social group, an
organisation): provisional


Construct validity, internal validity, external
validity and reliability (Yin 1994)


Contrasting theoretical views

of case studies


1/2

Diverse conceptions of case studies:


Positivist
: only exploratory (‘method of last resort’
Goldthorpe)


Interpretivist
: 1)
sui generis
(in its own right), 2) a basis
for grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss)


Ethnomethodological
: loci of generic phenomenon
(claims to universality of ‘primordial practices’)


Critical realist
: case studies are opportunities for
explanatory theory development (Burawoy, Stoecker,
Walton)


Post
-
modern:
occasions for creative narratives

Contrasting theoretical views

of case studies


2/2


The role of theory


generating, testing, avoiding, elaborating


Wider implications beyond the case


The extended case method: extending out from
the field (Burawoy, Zambian copper industry)


Challenge to the (positivist) notion that one
cannot generalise from single cases (Flyvberg,
2006)



Case study rationales: single cases



Critical case
: testing a well
-
formulated theory


Extreme or deviant case
: unusual or problematic


Representative or typical case
: everyday or
commonplace situation (eg. Robert and Helen Lynd’s
community study of
Middletown
, 1929)


Revelatory case
: new sociology insights (eg. Whyte’s
Street Corner Society
, 1955)


Longitudinal
: studying the same case over time.


Paradigmatic
(Flyvberg, 1006): an exemplary,
prototypical or metaphorical case that highlights more
general characteristics of the society


Case study rationales: multiple cases


By definition, the unusual, critical and the revelatory
case are likely to involve single cases, whereas
exemplary, typical or paradigmatic might be multiple.


A substitute for the experimental techniques of the
natural sciences (Ragin 1987)


Multiple case studies raise new questions: ‘replication’
design (Yin, 1994)


Literal replication
: predicts similar results


Theoretical replication
: predicts contrasting results but
for anticipatable reasons


Necessity of a rich theoretical framework

Holistic vs. embedded case studies


Relevant to both single and multiple case
studies


Holistic
: a global approach with only one unit
of analysis (eg. an organisation


Embedded
or
nested
: more than one unit of
analysis within a case (eg. the organisation as
well as its employees, services, clients,
programmes, etc.)

The role of comparison in and
between cases


Within cases
: nested or embedded cases


Consider internal divisions/tensions/conflicts,
often reflected in differing accounts of what is
going on ‘in’ the case


Between cases
: (multiple case study
rationales); also: representative/typical cases;
paradigmatic cases; similarities and
differences


Comparative method
: contested approach


Case study methods


Usually draws on multiple sources of evidence


BUT may rely exclusively on one method


Commonly contrasted with quantitative surveys


BUT can involve mixed qualitative and
quantitative methods


Common sources of data
:


Interviews (narrative, life history, semi
-
structured
or informal), participant observation (and other
observations), documents, photographs, official
records (including statistical information)


Triangulation of data

Research process


Data collection and analysis as a continuing and
iterative process (Tony Elgar, 2009)


First impressions


Exploring and contextualising actors/informants’
perspectives


Identifying distinctive narratives and their contexts


Drawing out social processes


Tracing temporal sequences


Pursuing puzzles and anomalies



Triangulation

to test analyses’


Feedback and revisits


Discussion: What are some of the
advantages and disadvantages to case
study research?




Discuss for 5 minutes with a partner, then
share your ideas with the group.

Case study research: example


Landscapes and Legacies of Industrial
Ruination
(Mah, forthcoming, University of
Toronto Press)


Case study design: theoretically driven,
multiple site (3), exemplary/paradigmatic
(Flyvberg), combination of typical and unique
(Yin), drew up criteria for selection.


Iterative, mixed methods, spatial/social
analysis, interviews & observations

Conclusion and discussion


Multiple theoretical views of case studies


Role of theory is important in research design


Case study rationales should be considered
carefully prior to research


Many varieties of case studies (single, multiple,
holistic, embedded, comparative)


Case study boundaries are fuzzy and difficult to
define/maintain


Discussion: workshop (homework task)