Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Although much of what we know about the empirical world has been generated by case studies and case studies continue to constitute a large proportion of work generated by the political science discipline, the case study method is poorly understood. Even among its defenders, there is confusion over the virtues and vices of this research design. Practitioners continue to ply their trade but have difficulty articulating what it is they are doing, methodologically speaking. The case study survives in a curious methodological limbo. The problem of ambiguity begins with the term itself. To refer to a work as a case study might mean that its method is qualitative, small N ; that the research is holistic and thick (a more or less comprehensive examination of a phenomenon); that it uses a particular type of evidence (e.g., ethnographic, clinical, nonexperimental, non–survey based, participant observation, process tracing, historical, textual, or field research); ...