Case Study Sociology

A case study paper is a typical assignment in various academic research areas. According to a common definition of case study in sociology, it is one of the most popular strategies in social research. The application of these methods has expanded over years. Now, it is applied in different disciplines of social science, including sociology psychology, management, anthropology, and many others. When it comes to sociology, a case study is the best way to investigate a particular social phenomenon and figure out how certain groups operate. Creating a case study sociology can be difficult, especially if you have not worked on this project before.

Our article attempts to look into the main characteristics and objectives of a sociology case study. Also, it aims to check the significance of this document for the sociology field.

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What Is a Case Study in Sociology?

According to a common belief, every activity associated with sociology is a case study. This document is unique because of its focus on a single entity. It can be an individual, a group, a situation, an organization, etc. Yet, one has to choose the entity for specific reasons rather than on a random basis. Also, this document is often based on empirical research.

When working on case studies in sociology, researchers immerse themselves in the lives and concerns of people, communities, or organizations. Whereas such documents are based on general scientific methods, they are to boost scientific sociology goals. Such research methods are based on humanism since they offer insights into the concerns, values, and relationships of people in diverse social communities.

Case Study Method in Sociology

To investigate this method, you ought not only to be aware of a case study sociology definition but also to familiarize yourself with the following characteristics:

  • This method uses methodological pluralism. So, it uses a broad range of efficient research methods to ensure the validity of the research;
  • This method can help get both quantitative and qualitative data;
  • Sometimes, such methods can be longitudinal. This means that the researchers collect and analyze the data over a long period of time at regular intervals;
  • The subject of a case study (an individual, a group, a situation, an organization, etc.) is unique and special in some way. To receive more information about this subject, the researcher will investigate it on different layers. For instance, to explore behavioral norms, the researcher may need to study a group of 10 delinquent children;
  • The data obtained through this method can help formulate new theories or test the validity of the existing ones.
  • Since case studies have a quite narrow focus, they are not applied in making wide statements about whole populations. Yet, even though the focus of this method is narrow, its scope can be a bit broad. For instance, a researcher may explore the person`s social development throughout the in-depth analysis of his or her childhood and adolescence.

Combining Case Studies with Other Research Methods

Within the sociology field, case studies are carried out along with qualitative research methods. Since it is a narrow method, one ought not to generalize the findings of case studies to other situations. For instance, through a study that is based on ethnographic observations, sociologists can obtain data about social relations, processes, and structures that can be hard to get by any other method. In other words, the appropriate use of case study methods stimulates further research.

Qualitative research is a common type of social science research that aims to gather non-numerical data. Also, it seeks to interpret the meaning of these data to explain social life through the in-depth analysis of targeted places or populations. People usually frame it by opposing quantitative research. This research utilizes numerical data to figure out obvious trends and uses statistical operations to define correlative and causal relationships between two or more variables.

Please note that researchers often use pluralism in methodology to collect a wide range of data through diverse research methods. Even though research methods may vary, the most popular ones are as follows:

  • Interviews;
  • Observation;
  • Surveys and questionnaires;
  • Focus groups;
  • Content analysis of textual and visual materials;
  • Studying historical records, letters, and other documents.

To carry out good research, you need to choose the most appropriate method. When applying a case study method, a researcher employs both primary and secondary sources. The secondary data may be collected through the sources, including books, newspapers, magazines, government reports, etc. All those sources aim to identify important events and issues, as well as to study the object within a certain period of time. Case studies employ two main techniques of data collection – an interview and observation.

Writing a Case Study: Key Steps

If you are going to work on case study in sociology, you need to familiarize yourself with a step-by-step guide that will turn the writing process into an enjoyable experience:

Step 1. Select the subject. The subject of your document will depend on the type of research you are conducting. If you are allowed to choose one, you need to identify the key objectives. The selection of a method depends on whether it is needed for the preliminary reading or the researcher is interested in a thorough investigation of the particular problem through this case study sociology;

Step 2. Collect the data. After the selection of the case, you need to get prepared for data collection. You may use various methods of data collection such as surveys, questionnaires, etc. Most probably, you need to use quantitative techniques of data collection. Pay attention that your data ought to be credible and up-to-date to add accuracy to your study.

Step 3. Preliminary data analysis. In the third stage of the writing process, you need to analyze the data obtained by using a systematic approach. This stage will enable you to raise important questions related to your research, as well as formulate a strong hypothesis.

Step 4. Make a thorough analysis of the case. After identifying a research question and constructing a hypothesis, you need to conduct a thorough study of the case. Here, you need to use the method of prolonged observation, as well as formal or informal interviews.

Step 5. Make a follow-up investigation. To ensure the reliability of the data collected, you need to repeat the process of observations whenever it is necessary. The importance of this stage cannot be underestimated as it will enable you to formulate appropriate conclusions.

Step 6. Generalize your findings. After finalizing your case study, you have to ensure the generalization of the data collected and analyzed. By making the generalization, you may draw a clear picture of your investigation.

As you can see, writing a case study document can be challenging. To cope with this task, you need to be aware of the key elements of a case study for sociology, as well as know the traditional conventions of formal writing.

Case Study Advantages and Disadvantages Sociology

You already know that a case study is a document in which the researcher investigates a particular individual or group of people in great detail to obtain credible data about the target population. This research method has both advantages and disadvantages that are to be familiar to those, who want to succeed in it. As for the main advantages of case study in sociology, one is to mention the ability to collect both qualitative and quantitative data and the affordable cost. As for the key disadvantages, it is necessary to note the inability to ensure the reliability of the data and the extent to which these data could be too general. Let us take a closer look at the main pros and cons of using case study in sociology:


  • They allow understanding of the behavior patterns of a person or a group of people being studied;
  • They help obtain information about the experiences of a person or a group of people;
  • They enable the researcher to trace the history of the social community, as well as its relationship with the social factors;
  • They ensure the formulation of relevant hypotheses along with the collected data which may be very helpful in testing them;
  • They facilitate the intensive analysis of social units. Thus, this method is widely used in social research;
  • They assist the researcher in creating the appropriate questionnaire;
  • They enable the researcher to use various methods such as interviews, study reports, questionnaires, documents, etc.;
  • They enable drawing inferences and help make the research process move on.


  • The information gathered in case studies is rarely comparable;
  • There is a danger of false generalization because no set rules are followed. As such, researchers can study only a few units;
  • Such methods consume more time and require a sufficient amount of expenditure. A considerable amount of time is also of great significance to understand the natural history cycles of social units;
  • Data obtained through this method are often vitiated because the subject may want to provide the information that researchers may need. This may make the document subjective;
  • Such methods are based on several assumptions which may not be very realistic sometimes;
  • These methods can be used in a limited field only. Thus, it is very difficult to apply them in society.

Now that you know the main features of case study definition sociology and know how to organize the writing process, let us get started. The more time you will spend on your project, the better outcome you will receive.

Example of Case Study in Sociology

The case of interest in this paper is murder which led to a life sentence. Mrs. Dalton was found guilty of killing Mrs. Sanders who was in a relationship with her former boyfriend. Mrs. Dalton and Mr. Sullivan had been in a romantic relationship for fourteen years but had stopped the relationship at the time of murder. In the duration of their relationship, Mrs. Dalton and Sullivan purchased a property together and stayed for some time. It is on record that Mrs. Dalton and Sullivan had a legal suit on the ownership of the joint property. In one instance, Mrs. Dalton had a gun when she visited Sullivan. He was very frightened and run away from her. This first commotion resulted onto a court case against Mrs. Dalton. This lady was in a relationship with Joe. Mrs. Dalton explains that it is Joe who owned the gun but did not care much because they were very close. She always walked around with the gun on several occasions. It is however clear that Joe was not aware that Dalton always carried the gun in her errands.

On the day of murder, Mrs. Dalton explains that she went to Mrs. Sander’s house to sort out the issue of the disputed property. She had passed by this house several times. On one occasion Mrs. Dalton was with her mother. On this occasion, she intended to show her mother the property and the people who stayed in at the time. Mrs. Dalton parked her car slightly far away from Mrs. Sander’s house and explained that she was not very sure of the exact location of Sander’s house. After some time, Wesley Sanders came from school. Mrs. Dalton then asked that the two stay at the back of the house to wait for the arrival of Mrs. Sanders. She later arrived and the three went into the house. It is recorded that Sander and Dalton went on with their communication while Wesley went to his room. After taking water, Mrs. Dalton asked Sanders that they leave the house to a destination. Mrs. Dalton desired that Sanders ride the truck but she objected. At some point, Mrs. Dalton, Sanders and Wesley came out of the truck. Sanders was so scared because Mrs. Dalton was holding a gun. Wesley says that Mrs. Dalton’s hand was very close to the trigger. Mrs. Sander pleaded with Mrs. Dalton not to shoot her in the presence of the boy. The three later went back into the truck and proceeded to Dean’s house.

Upon arrival, they found Dean with friends. Mrs. Dalton asked Dean to send away the friends who had visited him. Upon realizing that his mom was not well, Dean asked his mother whether she was up to something. Dean realized that Mrs. Dalton was holding a gun. He then reached out for the keys belonging to Mrs. Sander’s truck. At this point, Mrs. Dalton pointed her gun at Mrs. Sanders and shoot her right in the head. She then left while the boys run to a neighbor’s place. The neighbors confessed to have heard screams and opened the door for the boys who were fleeing. The boys later called the police for help. Mark Sullivan and Sanders had an appointment that day but it did not materialize. He then drove towards Sander’s house but met her truck on the road. He later lost track of them.


Murder is explained as taking another person’s life in a very cruel and cold blooded manner. Murder involves killing another person in a very harsh manner using a weapon like a gun or a knife of any other item that could cause physical harm to the body. In this case, Mrs. Dalton used her gun to shoot Mrs. Sanders in the head. The weapon caused injury to her victim who died instantly. Determinism theory explains that a person who commits an offence in a manner that looks structured should be charged as guilty. An offence that is done out of a structured approach displays characteristics of planning. The events that occur prior to the incident illustrate that the event was truly planned or intended. In this case Mrs. Dalton, she was so determined to cause harm for a long time. Her intension is evident in her possession of a gun on several occasions. In a previous case, she had carried a gun when she had a confrontation with Mark Sullivan. He run away and reported the case at the police. On this second instance, Mrs. Dalton was in possession of a gun at the time she sent to Mrs. Sander’s house. This illustrates a plan that had been in her mind for a long time.

She is also accused of committing kidnapping. The kidnapping offence is evident when a person is detained against their wishes. In this case, Sanders is in custody of Mrs. Dalton. She wouldn’t let Mrs. Sanders go. There appears to be a struggle that even make the three to get out of the truck. This incidence further illustrate that Mrs. Dalton is very aware of her plans and does not want Mrs. Saunders to get away from her. She had actually kidnapped Sanders and her son Wesley. Even the approach that Mrs. Dalton uses to get into Sander’s house illustrates a deliberate plan to cause harm. She took Walter and hid with him behind the house. This action was perhaps to make Sanders come hose innocently without any suspicion. This further illustrates determinism theory. Dalton was so determined to harm Sanders that she even had to hide to avoid being spotted. Further, she commanded Dean to send away his friends. This shows that she had an intension to cause harm and wanted a good environment to take action. While inside Dean’s house, Mrs. Dalton was so keen not to release Sanders despite her request to go home. That Mrs. Dalton was holding Sanders and Walter illustrate that she had indeed kidnapped the duo besides her determination to cause harm.

Mrs. Dalton’s life sentence is warranted because she had deeply intended to cause harm for a long time. It is also clear that her hatred for Mrs. Sanders is on the basis of her former relationship with Mark Sullivan. It is possible that she still held the man in her heart and must have been planning to cause harm for a long time. The witnesses also confess that Mrs. Dalton had been in possession of a gun on several occasions. Mrs. Dalton herself confesses to have been in possession of the 38 caliber gun on several occasions. This repeated account of carrying the gun illustrates that determinism theory of intension. She had the intension to kill for a long time. The rejection of her appeal also confirms that her crime is so valid and had a premeditated occasion. The gun was so ready for action. Throughout the ordeal, Walter explains that Mrs. Dalton’s hand was constantly on the trigger. Mrs. Sanders pleaded with Dalton not to kill her in the presence of the boy. This means that she must have even threatened to kill Mrs. Sanders if she failed to corporate. This case illustrates how Mrs. Dalton kidnapped and killed Mrs. Sanders.

All in all, a case study sociology method is very useful for analyzing social life. By applying this method, sociologists are capable of achieving various theoretical and political goals. Humanistically oriented sociologists ought to be aware of what is case study in sociology as this method will become their major research strategy. We hope that our guide will help you boost your writing skills.