Types of Case Study. Part 1 of 3 on Case Studies

the you okay so case studies as I said one of the three major strategies along with surveys and experiments what is a case study well I’m going to borrow this definition from Colleen Robson’s book a case study is a strategy of doing research and strategy coming out here involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context using multiple sources of evidence so let me just go back to some of those terms in turn and a particular contemporary phenomenon so it’s it’s particular suggest there’s one of them although that’s not always the case and it might be several whatever it is units cases in a case study it isn’t always one case study sometimes it is but can be several and I’ll talk about that in later slide some of the issues around how you choose the cases and what they mean really writing to each other contemporary phenomenon and I think the world here that the important word here is the phenomenon it it is a very general term a phenomenon so it means it’s something that’s going on and and that phenomenon can be a person and often is a person but it can be lots of other things to other other social phenomena like organizations or events or places and so on so it’s some phenomena it’s something happening or somebody doing something or some group of people doing something that you’re studying and of course it’s contemporary is happening now so you’re studying it now it’s not historical approach although of course I’m sure historians do use case studies as well next you do it within its real-life context that’s another key point I think about case studies is the contextual aspect of it that you’re doing it in its context I think the biggest contrast there is with experiments where you tend to do experiments in the lab you tend to bring people in to your your research institution your university whatever – as volunteers to work in your experiment and offered in the lab or some similar office or room to work Kim in the case of case studies it’s very much a case of going out to wherever the phenomenon is so wherever the people are wherever the event is happening wherever the institution is you go out there and you you study it in its context and in its context means also you bring into account all the contextual factors the fact that it’s operating all those people are operating in a wider world with things going on things happening things affecting them they’re affecting other things and so on so all those kind of relationships are part of the the context and lastly using multiple sources of evidence and in typically a case study as I said it’s most common in the qualitative field so it’s very much associated with a lot of the qualitative approaches such as interviews observations including particularly participant observation ethnography but it can be other sources too and probably the other major one that’s used in case that is these documents so if you’re going into an organization you would typically talk to people observe them doing things they’re doing and perhaps collect the documents that they are keeping about their activities in an organization so so working for example in commercial organizations a factory or an office is a typical case study approach you choose one site to do your work that’s the case and then you collect information by talking to employees and collecting the data there that they’re keeping about their activities there there and minutes of meetings and the other guidance documents they use and of course you observe them doing what they’re doing okay to go through the next few points the case study may be descriptive exploratory or explanatory actually most research strategies can be this I talked very briefly about this last week with surveys surveys tend to be descriptive but they can if you ask the right kind of questions be exploratory and even expand Ettore the same is true of case studies I mean they are probably most well-known for a kind of I guess an expiratory approach to things the second one down here where you’re exploring an area and in fact reason why people often use case studies is because not enough is known about the area to use any other kind of technique you can’t design a questionnaire unless you know what questions to ask you can’t design an experiment and as you know you know basically how people are going to it to respond within certain bounds to your your experimental them manipulations but in the case of the case study you can go in knowing almost nothing about what’s going on and just start asking questions observe things and so on so it’s very open technique very very fits in very well with the kind of exploratory approach to data collection but it can also be descriptive of course you’re writing up what you see there so you’re describing the situation and also it can be expiry in the sense that you begin to understand why things are happening and therefore can explain them so it may be not as powerful as an experiment and when I come to that in a couple weeks time you’ll see experiments are probably the the most powerful way of making judgments about causation and and giving explanations for things and but so can case studies do that as well and case studies can help you understand why people do certain things what motivates them and how they explain what they’re doing and what kind of proceeding activities lead them to do certain kinds of things and in that sense therefore you’re explaining what’s going on as well so all of these things come into account although as I say me exploration finding out what’s there in the first place if you know nothing is probably the the primary motivation for a case study and notice also it’s focused on these two things process how was it done and that course fits in very nicely with the the exploratory question what’s going on here who’s doing what to whom how they doing it and so on and the outcome as well it can be used in a much more kind of evaluative sense a case study can focus on whether something worked if something’s been changed something’s happy two people or some event happens to them then you can ask the questions of what was the outcome what happened as a result of that thing going on so I mean to give you a simple example of how that might fit in with a case study you might do a case study of an election and of course in the election you’re asking how the people operate how do they campaign how do they support they’re there they’re there they’re politicians and how do they get the vote out if it’s a you know that’s important aspect of what they’re doing just think about the presidential elections at the moment you know how does he the TV debates go on and so on all those kind of things asking the the first question the process questions how is it done but of course it’s an election so you can also ask what’s the outcome you know who won why did they win how do they get the vote out you know what kind of people voted and so on so for all those kinds of you know questions about the outcome of the work as well so a typical case study of in that case say an election okay so that’s in outline what we’re focusing on the case study let’s look at a bit more detail of these things first of all let me look at some classical examples of case studies just to show you really two things here one is the the range of different kinds of things I’ll talk bit more about that in later slides but also to talk to to give you some idea of the enormous kind of field that it discovers it is a big range of studies just to start with one of the the real classics and the individual case study and this sum this study I’ve mentioned here the jack roller and this was a study and done by by Stan Lee of a 1/2 million American situations in an American town back in I think I’ve actually forgotten the date now but I think it was in the 1930s the study was actually done so it is really a classic from very long time ago and the jack roller was a picker character whom he researched that the that was one of the the terms used for this this kind of guy who was a bit of a bit of a conman kind of artists and and the the study kind of looked at him he’s life one single person case study so the individual case study and it became a classic in talking about the life of somebody on the margins in in American society you can also have a sets of case studies individual case studies and and I mean just an example of this this is I don’t think this has actually been carried out and but three general general practices you might study so if you’re looking at the Health Service and you want to look at some of the changes particularly now with the the big changes going on in the role of of general practitioners in Health Service you might do a contrast of three different general practices so looking at three single practices notice here the practice is the case the practice is the group of doctors and all the other ancillary workers the nurses and the receptionist and so on who work together to to do the the work of the practice and you might compare three individual patches is that way perhaps picking a very large one a very small one or or one out in the countryside one in a town and one in the suburbs and so on to get a range of different cases I’ll talk more about that kind of procedure of how you pick separate cases in a later slide going a bit further there another another classic area of case studies has been the community studies approach where there are loads of people involve lots and lots of participants and whole communities may even be thousands of people involved but it’s one community it’s picked upon for some particular reason and just give you two very diverse examples here there’s a classic study done back in the 1950s originally went into the sixties I think on family and kinship in East London where the researchers sociologists doing the work picked a area of East London a fairly poor district of East London and and they basically did a very intensive case study with the people living there and they stayed there they interviewed them they recorded what was going on they observed them they of course kept documents that were being kept about the local thermocol authority and so on so they’ve got a range of different data coming in and talked about the kind of life of effectively a working-class community in Britain just after the Second World War by contrast an earlier study done just before the Second World War the azan D in the Sudan was a similar kind of approach with this time done by an anthropologist in fact it was evidence pretty hard a very famous British anthropologist working with the azan D which I think is now from Lincoln writing sayings an area which is now in South Sudan it’s the new country in Africa he was working there when it was still a British colony of course back in the pre-war period previous Second World War period and he basically lived with the the group of people called this and he who spokes him the language that’s why they were called his Andy and actually now I think it’s the Assange’s on the border between South Sudan and Congo that’s what various scientists say might have been in the congos on the time as well and he lived won’t work with them several years and wrote a classic study about their beliefs about their ideas and so on particularly he was fascinated by their notions of magic and witchcraft and so on what role that had in their life and so you know two community studies one NASA logical and one one based in in the UK and much more kind of such a logical approach to things but using similar techniques of observations or there been other studies looking at social groups so rather than defining it by a place you know the the town in the in the case of the East London study or the the villages in the area in the case of the is Andy study in this case it that the definition of the the the case is by virtue of some kind of social phenomenon and in this case I’ve chosen the example how Becker study of marijuana smokers I know again it’s quite an old study and going right back to the 1950s and 60s period but he basically chose just a few people just a few people who were regular smokers of marijuana and hash or whatever they called it and were also musicians and that the things were tied up together being musicians was tied up with drug taking and so on and amongst a group of people so a small group of people defined by their their social position of being musicians and drug takers and looked at how their lives were were led how their drug taking basically was was was part of their that their musical life and so on and it’s a study that came out with the idea that you have to learn how to appreciate the effect of drugs and things like this is that in fact just taking drugs isn’t good enough you having to learn certain things with it as well going further to to the larger scale we can define actual organizations institutions I’ve already mentioned the idea of you know studying an election you could so the critical parties involved for example in these cases that these are studies of particular organizations in one case working for Ford it was a car factory Hugh Bennion study of that actually went to to live and work inside the the factory and worked with the workers in the factory worked alongside them observe them and of course talk to them and so on in that typical anti Balaji cool fashion of the graphic fashion in contrast Nigel fielding and he I think it was his PhD study so many years ago about 30 years ago studied the National Front what he did was actually as a postgraduate researcher quite a dangerous and quite a brave thing to do I think he actually joined in the National Front he actually went along to meetings and activities with them and talked to them of course to find out what what they thought a real inside insight into what the National Front is a far-right organization or it was then I think it’s now defunct being taken up by other far-right organisations but a kind of a fascist my organization in British politics quite a dangerous thing to do and to get involved in that particularly the kind of things he came in off and published later on he wasn’t sympathetic I have to say it should to them so quite an interesting you do that undercover are today no I think it was partly partly undercover and partly not I was I think some people they knew that he was a researcher but a lot of them didn’t know it wasn’t kind of wasn’t it you know he didn’t kind of where I was well I don’t about Ashlyn’s but maybe some people knew where he was from and what his background was but but not everybody did and I’m actually not sure you yeah you’re right in some cases it’s done that way you you you you get permission at the top but loads lower down don’t know but I’m not sure he did that it might have been he had certain certain you know neighbors of his or something new and he knew his background but but actually maybe other people in the higher echelons didn’t know what was going on that certainly was a big fuss after he published his results that and the National Front weren’t all pleased about the results and then last example of some events as cases in this case I’ve given two two and two things I suppose might even sure really wet weather housewife is an event as such and it’s a bit it’s a role isn’t it really run the event but other kinds of things roles and relationships a no clear study of house called housewife at the book she published it was a study of what it was like to be a housewife and it was a very important study in in suddenly bringing open an area that hadn’t been studied before by by by sociologists and of course was accounting for probably close to half the populations experience of life what it was like to be a housewife and the Cuban Missile Crisis had been lots of studies of this but another big event in this case one single thing that the fact that was lot in the media recently about this because it was an anniversary and a week or so ago of the crisis itself when the Soviet Union positions some nuclear weapons in Cuba and the Americans got very upset about that and wanting to draw them and for a time there was on the nuclear brink so it’s because the weather United States and Soviet would the fire weapons at each another so a huge crisis in international politics and there’s been a lot of studies about that and what happened as a case study and of course you can look at that by looking at what the actors did and what they said what what they wrote and you know what TV programs they’re made in selves are enormous amounts of data you can use to bring into that case study okay so what I’ve done try to do here is to give you some idea of the the range of case study approaches so a bit about how they collected the data so you can see that that it’s definitely this kind of holistic approach to research or bringing in things from various sources and looking at things in their context and and that all of them have in common this notion of defining what a case is and that’s an issue we’ll come back to later on

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