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Case Study

A case study is where sociologists investigate in great detail a particular individual or group, as opposed to trying to gather a representative sample from the target population. Normally a case study will feature methodological pluralism (using a range of research methods to achieve triangulation) and they are often longitudinal studies (the researcher regularly revisiting the case over a long period of time).

Advantages of case studies include the ability to gather qualitative and quantitative data and the comparative lack of expense compared with attempting the same research with a large sample.

Disadvantages would be the inability to ensure the reliability of the data and the extent to which it could be generalisable.

An example of a Case Study is Paul Willis’ ‘Learning to Labour’ which involved an in-depth study of a group of male students from a school in Wolverhampton. Another is Heelas and Woodhead’s case study of spirituality in Kendal (the Kendal Project).

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