What Is a Case?: Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry by Charles C. Ragin (ed.), Howard Saul Becker (ed.)

By Charles C. Ragin (ed.), Howard Saul Becker (ed.)

The concept that of the case is a simple characteristic of social technology study and but many questions about how a case will be outlined, how circumstances might be chosen and what the factors are for an excellent case or set of circumstances are faraway from settled. Are instances pre-existing phenomena that desire basically be pointed out by way of the researcher prior to research can start? Or are situations built throughout the process learn, in simple terms after research has published which good points might be thought of defining features? Will situations be chosen randomly from the entire pool of obtainable circumstances? Or will situations be selected as a result of their particular characteristics? those questions and so on are addressed by way of the participants to this quantity as they probe the character of the case and the ways that various understandings of what a case is impact the behavior and the result of examine. The individuals discover a good buy of universal flooring, and but in addition they convey strikingly diverse perspectives on many key issues. As Ragin argues and the contributions reveal, the paintings of any given researcher is frequently characterised by way of a few hybrid of those easy methods, and it is vital to appreciate that almost all learn contains a number of definitions and makes use of of situations, as either particular empirical phenomena and as basic theoretical different types.

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Although Goldthorpe uses a sampling logic to justify his practice, it could equally be seen in terms of a quite different logic. There is a long tradition outside sociology of treating particular individuals or groups (monarchs, priesthoods, the proletariat) as in some special sense containing the essence of a situation; in substantive theorizing this would go with such ideas as hegemony, center (as opposed to periphery), or the great society. Another intellectual tradition deals in signs and symbols, and then cases represent that which they signify or symbolize; in the more mundane tradition of sociological method, this might be partially translated into the idea of the index or indicator.

Moreover they are given names, some of the names recur, and some of their personal situations are described in detail. However, the same individuals are not followed through as Doc or Long John is in Street Corner Society; indeed, the authors deliberately concentrated on what the students had in common rather than what distinguished them (1961: 22). Nor, on the other hand, are numbers of individuals having a given characteristic often added up. This follows from the unusual sampling strategy adopted.

Whyte could be said to have observed the structure as directly as one ever can observe a structure, and in that sense his observational and his theoretical units are the same even if he did not observe the whole of it. The logic by which he gets from observed to unobserved cases is that a structure of the kind which his cases fit and constitute could persist only if the unstudied cases also fit it, and would constrain them to do so. Street Corner Society is especially interesting because, since the publication in its second edition of the famous methodological appendix, it has become a case of participant observation; indeed, not just a case but an exemplar.

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