Case study

Case Studies
Question 1 How individuals come together in groups and cooperate to achieve
common goals is a classic topic in peace research, political science and other
disciplines. In the study Collective Action and the Civil Rights Movement, political
scientist Dennis Chong sets out to explain the successful political activism of the
American civil rights movement, which many see as an important contributor to
landmark decisions such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of
1965. More specifically, Chong attempts to explain how the movement managed to
mobilize so many individuals to participate in boycotts, demonstration drives and
rallies.
(a)How would you formulate Chong’s research question if it were a case study? What
would be the advantages of seeing the American civil rights movement as a case that
was part of some broader population? What, do you think, is the American civil rights
movement a case of?
– One important contribution of Chong’s book is his explanation for why so
many sympathizers of the movement’s cause actually joined their
demonstrations, such as the Selma to Montgomery marches. Why would
anyone risk getting assaulted by the police, arrested and losing one’s job, as
often happened, to participate in a demonstration? The success of the
demonstration does, after all, not hinge on the participation of one single
individual. Consequently, if all sympathizers follow the same reasoning, there
will be no demonstration at all. Chong argues that social incentives played an
important role and that those who stayed away from the demonstration ran a
high risk of being viewed as ‘free-riders’ by the community. This type of social
pressure, according to Chong, worked best in small tightly-knit communities,
such as those centered around African-American churches.
– Imagine that you were to begin to investigate the claim that churches worked
as mobilizing agents for the American civil rights movement by generating
social pressures on their members to participate.
(b) Suppose you followed one African-American church over some time during the
mid- Sixties and were able to study the extent to which the priest mentioned Civil
Rights issues in the sermons, whether such issues were discussed during church
gatherings and if information about the Civil Rights Movement’s goals and activities
were made available to church-goers. You would also study participation in Civil
Rights activities among church-goers. What kind of co-variation that is relevant to
your hypothesis would you be able to observe with such a research design? If you had
instead been able to conduct the same type of study, but with two churches instead of
one, what kind of co-variation that is relevant to your hypothesis would you have
been able to observe with such a research design?
Of course, social pressure is not the only thing that can have the effect of making
people participate in politics. It is, for instance, well-known that individuals with
higher socio- economic status, and especially those with higher levels of education,
are more likely to participate.
(c) Suppose that the church you decided to study was located in a poor working-class
neighborhood, where the socio-economic status of church-goers was typically below
average. What kind of technique for choosing the case have you employed? Explain!
Suppose you found that the priest increasingly mentioned Civil Rights issues during
1965, and that civil rights activism among the church-goers increased substantially
during the same period of time. Discuss the extent to which this supports your
hypothesis!
(d)Suppose instead the church you decided to study was located in a less
impoverished neighborhood, where church-goers were typically middle-class whitecollar
workers.
What kind of technique for choosing the case have you employed in this case?
Explain! Suppose you found that that the priest increasingly mentioned Civil Rights
issues during 1965, and that civil rights activism among the church-goers increased
substantially during the same period of time. How does this reflect on your
hypothesis? Explain!
As you know, there can be advantages to studying more than one case. Suppose you
have studied the case in (d). There are two additional African-American churches you
are considering, and you only have the resources to study one of them. This is what
you know about them:
Case A: Church-goers were typically middle-class white collar-workers, but there
seems to have been little discussion of the Civil Rights Movement and its goals during
church activities; instead sermons and study-groups connected to the church focused
more on purely religious topics.
Case B: Church-goers were typically working-class blue-collar-workers, but many of
them appear to have been very active in the civil rights movement, for instance by
participating in civil rights marches.
(e)What would be the advantage of supplementing the case in (d) with Case A? What
information about the case would you have to collect? What would be the advantage
of supplementing the case in (d) with Case B? What information about the case would
you have to collect? Which of the two alternatives (Case A and Case B) would you
choose? Why?
Question 2
The Swedish newspaper Påhitt has run a year-long feature in which it profiles the
lives of immigrants to Sweden. In the interviews, some of these immigrants state that
they feel that they have integrated into Swedish society, while others state that they
feel outside of Swedish society. You find this interesting and decide to design a
comparative case study to address this topic. What is your research strategy? More
specifically, answer the following questions:
(a) What is your research question?
(b)Formulate one hypothesis and justify it. It does not matter what the hypothesis is,
and you do not have to study previous research—any hypothesis which you can
explain coherently will work. What is the dependent (outcome) variable and what is
the independent (explanatory) variable? Describe the causal chain suggested to
produce the causal effect.
(c) What will you choose as your unit of analysis, i.e. what is a relevant population?
Why?
(d)What is your case selection strategy? Why is this a good case selection strategy for
this research question?
(e) Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your research design in terms of
causality.