The case study analysis is a tried and true method of instruction and evaluation in many academic fields, including social sciences. Researchers frequently use parallel or similar case studies as real-life examples when they begin the questioning process for their research process. For students and scholars, case studies have the potential to impact social growth without employing other expensive, time-consuming methods.
Case-based reasoning allows the social researcher to learn and dissect cultures, moral values, and traditions without concrete intrusions. They can be used to dictate practice in general principle decision-making and following through on potential outcomes and results, or used to develop theory through abstract thought with the comparison of multiple events.
On the whole, case studies are used as instructional tools, methods of choosing a plan of treatment, or strategizing. In the social sciences, this is essential to make decisions or assumptions about a person, group, or society, without directly evaluating each individual.
Social Research and the Need for Different Methods
Social sciences are different from other fields of humanities because they are based predominantly on epistemic studies, or strategizing theories based on knowledge of a subset of people, beliefs, or attitudes. Case studies are used in social science research to illustrate what is known about a concept or a statement that is made or a postulated theory. They’re also used to make a claim of an outcome after exhaustive research has been made.
Using case studies in social research aids the researcher in determining hypotheses about situations that have or would possibly happen. Although there is no way to use scientific evidence, as there would be in a mathematical theorem or biological question, the case study itself, when used correctly, is an epistemic strategy that can stand up to scrutiny under staunch measures to demonstrate credibility and relevancy of the hypothesis and predicted outcome.
With no way of predicting potentially widespread results on a population without a problem already occurring, it is obvious that social research requires different methodological practices than other sciences employ
Challenges to Using Case Studies in Social Research
Without concrete formulas and evidence, case studies are bound to have some challenges when they are used. Knowing the obstacles that can move the research results from quantitative to qualitative or diminish their credibility can help the researcher overcome issues before releasing their findings.
Common challenges include:
● A focus on generalization, but an inability to generalize findings. As a theory, social sciences use case studies and other methods to predict the beliefs, behaviors, or attitudes of a generalized population.
This often leads to a need for further exploration of other areas in order to determine the causation or effects of the research’s outcome.
● Length of time to complete a study. Case studies consist of an action play of interviewing participants, gathering and analyzing data, readjusting focus groups, and repeating as necessary. Deadlines can be delineated but often require adjustments due to other people’s changing circumstances.
There is no way to put a scientific cap on measuring the time necessary to obtain information in a case study, and these tend to take extensive time for data collection and analysis.
● Difficulty obtaining permission status, since for research of people to be unbiased or skewed, anonymity is often preserved. This way, the participants aren’t concerned about backlash or problems should their honest answers be revealed.
Promises of non-disclosure are usually given, but case studies are detailed reviewings of a situation. It’s difficult to ensure the material is accurate without the permission of the participant, which can’t always be obtained in anonymous works and can be time-consuming to attempt.
Many challenges make using case studies a difficult practice, but the benefits outweigh these obstacles in social research.
Case Studies Have Advantages
As case studies have grown in the significance of use, they’ve overcome all but the diehard skeptic criticism. In the past, case studies were considered a method of last resort, only to be used if no other alternative existed.
But now, there is a better understanding and acceptance of the potential case studies offer as the opportunity to use knowledge to formulate hypotheses, establish determinations off of findings, and then turn those results into a generalization that can benefit society.
The use of case studies as a methodology in research allows the researcher to obtain a holistic review of a subject. An entire picture is given, rather than a small idea. With this larger understanding, the researcher can thoroughly build information on the subject with which to continue exploring smaller details in the midst of the situation.
With case studies, researchers have the opportunity to evaluate and understand a wide range of perspectives, reducing the potential for bias to exist. As long as a diverse study is performed with a wide pool of participants, no one single individual can determine the outcome.
The need for case studies in social sciences to postulate and prevent societal issues has gradually seen this practice become its own methodology.
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