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The Anatomy of the Case Study

The Anatomy of the Case Study

May 2015 | 160 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

This sharp, stimulating title provides a structure for thinking about, analysing and designing case study. It explores the historical, theoretical and practical bones of modern case study research, offering to social scientists a framework for understanding and working with this form of inquiry.  Using detailed analysis of examples taken from across the social sciences Thomas and Myers set out, and then work through, an intricate typology of case study design to answer questions such as:

  • How is a case study constructed?
  • What are the required, inherent components of case study?
  • Can a coherent structure be applied to this form of inquiry?

The book grounds complex theoretical insights in real world research and includes an extended example that has been annotated line by line to take the reader through each step of understanding and conducting research using case study.


Chapter 1: What is case study?
Chapter 2: The history of case study and its epistemological status
Chapter 3: Generalisation, phronesis and the case study
Chapter 4: Induction and the case study
Chapter 5: A typology for case study
Chapter 6: Working through the typology
Chapter 7: An example in depth: Contesting Certification
Chapter 8: Conclusion: drawing from the anatomy and constructing the study

This will become the new bible for serious case study inquiry.

Norman K. Denzin
Research Professor of Communications and Professor of Sociology, University of Illinois

This is a systematic and inspiring book to draw on when organising your research around a case study, because it strikes a fine balance between epistemological eloquence and methodological practicalities. The book manages to clarify a general anatomy of case studies, while at the same time demonstrating and exemplifying a large variety of ways of doing them.

Bente Halkier
Professor, Roskilde University

Thomas and Myers systematically unpack epistemological and practical issues related to case study as a form of social science inquiry. Their work provides a clear structure for case study in social science inquiry. The authors have done an excellent job tackling the two main issues related to case study – deficiency in generalising power and lack of structure. They provide complex theoretical insights in real world research and I think readers will easily understand the technical concepts in the book because adequate explanation is given. I believe this book achieves its aim in offering a theoretical and practical framework with extended examples for both the experienced researcher and graduate students who choose to use a case study.

Abate Kenna
International Journal of Research & Method in Education

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Sample Materials & Chapters

The Anatomy of the Case Study: A typology for case study

Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas is a professor of education at the University of Birmingham. His teaching and research have focused on inclusion, special education, and research methodology in education, with a particular focus on case study. He has conducted research funded by the AHRC, the ESRC, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the Department for Education, Barnardos, local authorities, and a range of other organisations. He has coedited the British Educational Research Journal and is currently an executive editor of Educational Review. He is author of many books, most recently Education: A Very Short Introduction published by Oxford... More About Author

Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers is senior lecturer in Social History and Education at the University of Birmingham.  He works on the history and sociology of education, and has specific interests in the application of psychological knowledge in school systems.  He serves on editorial boards for the journals History of Education, History of Education Review and Paedagogica Historica: International Journal for History of Education. More About Author

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