Journal article Open Access

A Typology for the Case Study in Social Science Following a Review of Definition, Discourse, and Structure

Thomas, Gary

I propose a typology for the case study following a definition wherein various layers of classificatory principle are disaggregated. I first distinguish two parts of the case study: i) the subject of the study, which is the case itself; ii) the object, which is the analytical frame or theory through which the subject is viewed and which the subject explicates. Beyond this distinction the case study is presented as classifiable by its purposes and the approaches adopted – principally with a distinction drawn between theory-centered and illustrative study. Beyond this, there are distinctions to be drawn among various operational structures that concern comparative versus non-comparative versions of the form and the ways that the study may employ time. The typology reveals that there are numerous valid permutations of these dimensions and many trajectories therefore open to the case inquirer.

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