How to conduct a case study
Purpose of a case study
The purpose of a case study is to provide a more thorough analysis of a situation or "case" (often the story of an individual) which will reveal interesting information to the reader. Often they are used in social development to describe a person’s life. Case studies often accompany reports, to give ‘flesh’ to written reports.
Know why you are conducting this interview. To what end will you ask questions?
The person to be interviewed must be respected. She must understand why you want to speak to her and what use you will put what she says. You must explain who you are, who you work for, why you want to speak to her.
Respect her dignity. Case studies must avoid exploitation. Similarly, they must avoid sensationalism. You must also avoid reporting any claim that is far-fetched, or which could cause conflict between her and her family and community. Be aware that poverty is often associated with disenfranchisement. Do not abuse her powerlessness for your own ends.
Make sure you use an interpreter if you do not speak her language. If you do, you must ensure the interpreter is trained, and does not put words into the respondent’s mouth, or censor her or encourage her to say things she otherwise would not have.
Will you take photographs? Will you ask permission? What will you do if permission is refused? How will you deal with the power imbalance between you and her? What will you do with the photographs? Will you give her a copy? How will this be arranged?
Will you conduct the case study at her home? If so, be sure not to do it when she is busy with child care or other household duties. If it is done elsewhere, ensure her comfort so that she may feel composed and not intimidated.
Steps to Writing the Case Study
1. Know the subject or project. Be sure you know where she fits in. If she is a beneficiary,...
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