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Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences (my reading notes)

Although it’s been a while since I last taught Research Methods or Research Design, I am collaborating with my department’s working group on research methods. We are redesigning courses, syllabi and sequences, so I am always keen on reading and keeping up-to-date with methodological advances. Moreover, I’m an editor of a qualitative methods journal, which also forces me to stay on top of the literature.

While I would say that Alexander L. George and Andrew Bennett’s book “Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences“, is neither a new book nor an old one (it was published in 2004), it is definitely a classic and a must-read. Moreover, I’m a comparativist, and someone who undertakes systematic case study comparisons, so George and Bennett’s book is definitely my go-to when I want to revise my research strategy.

Pedagogically, it will help students understand the rigour of case studies/process tracing. For researchers worldwide, it also helps understand the logic behind comparative case studies, process tracing and historical analysis.

Overall, I always recommend that my students and colleagues read this book if they want to go beyond Yin 1984 (the classic case study book). This is a systematically-designed, well-articulated, cogently-written volume that has both pedagogical value and analytical rigour.

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