Using the Case Study Method: Experiences of Researching a Social Phenomenon With Intangible Triggers


Studying how and why certain social activists intervene in social reality to change it for the better for underprivileged groups involves looking at the social activists’ motivations that trigger them to act in particular ways. The case study method is well suited for looking closely at a wide variety of internal—and intangible—motivating factors. This reflective piece on case study method shares the experience of two researchers who deployed it in studying how spiritual capital, especially Christian spiritual capital, spurred the social activists studied to undertake entrepreneurial activities, as a means of solving some intractable social problems. Qualitative research was determined to be the best option available and critical constructivism formed the basis as a methodology for this particular research. This research methods case presents the logic and construct of this type of case study research into looking at intangible factors that spur social agents to intervene in particular ways in reality, with a primary objective of changing it for the better.

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