A case study is a short paper (with supplemental primary or secondary source material) that illustrates one particular “real-world” problem or issue. Case studies are used extensively in the social sciences and professional schools (see this example); the Harvard Business School case studies are a particular well-known example.
The key to a successful case study is a focus on one illustrative example – so choose wisely. It must be relatively well-known so that there are enough resources that you can tap into to provide enough background information and details about the event or situation. It should be focused enough that you can set boundaries to what will be discussed – for example, “domestic abuse in Korea” is too vague; but a specific news story about a particular crime of domestic abuse in Seoul during the IMF-period could work. “Soccer and nationalism” is too vague – but “the impact of the success of the Iraqi National Soccer team in the 2006 Asian Games on sectarian violence” would be more focused.
For the purposes of this seminar, a case study should address a particular body of theory; the readings for the week that your group is assigned. It could be generated from an example discussed in the reading. For example, if the readings focus on globalization and popular culture, then talking about Slumdog Millionaire as it illustrates the impact of Bollywood on Hollywood would be fine.
Case studies (in this case, written as a group) should in total be no more than five double-spaced pages (not including appendices, citations). It should have at least five elements:
- a descriptive title (Slumdog Millionaire: A Fusion of Bollywood and Hollywood);
- a general description of the event/issue;
- a brief analysis of the event/issue applying the relevant theory (key concepts would be fine, as would relating short quotes to case study details or drawing conclusions based about the event/issue based on the relevant theory);
- a critique of the theory based on the reality of the case study;
- and a list of references used – both the assigned readings and the supplementary material that you collect
Because the material will be posted on a course website, I do not expect to see five pages of text; the posts added to the WordPress site should essentially not exceed the limit above (if I appended them together in one document). The material that goes into the case study depends on the point of your case study; for example, in the case of Iraqi soccer, a detailed history of the War in Iraq is not necessary (though a brief timeline may be useful). If you approach this as nationalism trumping sectarian violence, then a brief review of the ethnic groups would be useful, as would a brief discussion of the history of soccer in Iraq. Research of the case study from the web (but be careful about evaluation sources) and newspaper accounts (through our information databases like Lexis-Nexis) will be essential.
Please post all material on the course website (WordPress), making sure to check off the correct category, the Friday prior to the Tuesday seminar meeting, so that your peers will have enough time to read the case study prose and appendices. Divide the work up among group members as you see fit!