Thursday, 17 September 2009


On using case studies in my methodology chapter I'll have to comment on generalisation. Mason {2002} says it's not easy, that you have to know what your argument is and its relationship to the production of theory - and that's what I'm struggling with - relating real practical engagement to the engagement literature and social capital theory. I have to support each claim I make with the relevant linking material, Mason says.

The points to make must include:
  • Qualitative research must produce explanations that have wide resonance and are generalisable even though case studies provide a compact unit of research {Payne, 2005 }
  • Case studies should be interesting
  • Case studies should maximise what can be learnt from that particular case
  • Acknowledgement that limited generalisation is possible or appropriate to qualitative research
I need to find how Stake distinguishes between types of case study. From the web, I gather it's:
  1. The intrinsic case study where ‘ this case is of interest… in all its particularity and ordinariness’ , ‘let the case reveal its story’
  2. The instrumental case study in which a case is examined mainly to provide insight into an issue or for refinement of a theory.
  3. The collective case study – number of cases studied in order to investigate some general phenomenon.
I want instrumental case studies to gain insight to the phenomenon of engagement. Collective case studies would be nice if I could get them. I'm not using intrinsic case studies, so don't need to go into details of what the project or programmes are - and that helps to keep confidentiality and anonymity.

Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative researching. London, Sage.
Payne, G. and M. Williams (2005). "Generalization in Qualitative Research." Sociology 39(2): 295-314.
Stake, R. E. (1995) The Art of case study research, Sage. or in
Stake, R. (1994) Case studies, in Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y.S. Handbook of Qualitative Research, London, Sage

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