Our readings for week 11 really helped focus case studies for me. Yin (1981) does a great job by explicitly distinguishing between evidence type, data collection method, and research strategy (case studies are a research strategy, by the way). Yin also helpfully points out when case studies make a good research strategy (when the phenomena and the context being studied are intertwined). Beaulieu, Scharnhorst and Wouters (2007) say that case studies are good for deconstructing the scientific method and the claims of universality that are produced as a result. This is backed up by Knight (2002), who says that they can powerfully counteract over-generalization.
What really struck me, though, was the quote of Miles, in Yin (1981), that asserted that the qualitative research done in his area of study (organizations) "cannot be expected to transcend story-telling" (p. 58). I thought to myself, what's wrong with storytelling? Stories are powerful tools for conveying information, helping the reader become engaged with the material like nothing else. Just because a narrative is being told does not mean that it is the result of shoddy research or lazy scholarship.
Beaulieu, A., Scharnhorst, A., & Wouters, P. (2007). Not another case study: A middle-range interrogation of ethnographic case studies in the exploration of e-science. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 32(6), 672-692.
Knight, P.T. (2002). Small-scale research: Pragmatic inquiry in social science and the caring professions. London: SAGE Publications.
Yin, R.K. (1981). The case study crisis: Some answers. Administrative Science Quarterly, 26(1), 58-65.