Stake Case Study Analysis and Interpretation

Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Chapter 5: Analysis and Interpretation

  • Analysis is the deconstruction of data and impressions. It then entails giving meaning to the parts. It is meaning making.
  • "...analysis should not be seen as separate from everlasting efforts to make sense of things (p. 72)."
  • "Qualitative study capitalizes on ordinary ways of making sense (p. 72)."
  • "Cases seldom exist alone. If there's one, there surely are more somewhere (p. 72)."
  • "...they (researchers) have certain protocols that help them draw systematically from previous knowledge and cut down on misperception. Still, there is much art and much intuitive processing to the search for meaning (p. 72)."
  • Categorical Aggregation or Direct Interpretation

    • "Two strategic ways that researchers reach new meanings about cases are through direct interpretation of the individual instance and through aggregation of instances until something can be said about them as a class (p. 74)."
  • Correspondence and Patterns

    • "The search for meaning often is a search for patterns, for consistency, for consistency within certain conditions, which we call 'correspondence' (p. 78)."
    • "Sometimes, we will find significant meaning in a single instance, but usually the important meanings will come from reappearance over and over (p. 78)."
    • "Only rarely will important assertions result from surfing through the data. Sophisticated use of coded data comes slowly with experience (p. 84)."
    • "it also is important to spend the best analytic time on the best data. Full coverage is impossible, equal attention to all data is not a civil right. The case and the key issues need to be kept in focus. The search for meaning, the analysis, should roam out and return to these foci over and over (pp. 84-85)."
    • Don't get inundated by the data. Be selective.
  • Naturalistic Generalizations

    • Single case studies are not meant to be generalized, but rather they are added to a collection of cases from which generalized claims can be made.
    • "Naturalistic generalizations are conclusions arrived at through personal engagement in life's affairs or by vicarious experience so well constructed that the person feels as if it happened to themselves (p. 85)."
    • "Translation from experiential language to formal language diminishes and distorts some of the meaning. Naturalistic generalization is important more because of its embeddedness in the experience of the reader, whether verbalized or not (p. 86)."
    • Case researchers must make choices about the amount of analysis and interpretation in order to create assertions, which are the researcher's proposed generalizations. They also must decide the extent to which they will provide input into the reader's naturalistic generalizations. Researchers do both, but the amount of emphasis on either the assertions or the naturalistic generalizations is the researcher's choice.
    • "The reader will take both our narrative descriptions and our assertions: narrative descriptions to form vicarious experience and naturalistic generalizations, assertions to work with existing propositional knowledge to modify existing generalizations (p. 86)."
    • If the researcher accepts the concept of naturalistic generalizations, then s/he must consider it throughout the entire research process: from conception to dissemination.