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Case Study Research

  • Pota Forrest-LawrenceEmail author
Reference work entry

Abstract

Case study research has been extensively used in numerous disciplines as a way to test and develop theory, add to humanistic understanding and existing experiences, and uncover the intricacies of complex social phenomena. Its usefulness as an exploratory tool makes it a popular methodology to employ among social scientists. This usefulness, however, has, at times, been overshadowed by several misunderstandings of and oversimplifications about the nature of case study research. Although these misunderstandings, such as the inability to confidently make scientific generalizations on the basis of a single case, may be presented as limitations, they should not detract social scientists from using case study research for certain critical research tasks. Used in such a way, case study research holds up considerably well to many other social science methodologies and can certainly contribute to the development of knowledge. This chapter examines case study research with emphasis on its “generality,” notably what Stake proposed as “naturalistic generalization,” a proxy process that enables the generalization of findings from a single case. It will interrogate the misunderstanding that case study research cannot effectively contribute to scientific development, by focusing on single-case designs. Single-case designs attempt to understand one particular case in-depth and allow for a richer understanding of the issue under investigation.

Keywords

Case study Single case Qualitative research method Generalizations Naturalistic generalizations 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences and PsychologyWestern Sydney UniversityMilperraAustralia

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