Case Studies as a Strategy of Inquiry

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NRI 7360 QUALITATIVE FIELD METHODS

STRATEGY OF INQUIRY – CASE STUDY
Alex Zachariah

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA NATURAL RESOURCE INSTITUTE Qualitative research provides an in-depth understanding of the experiences, perspectives and histories of people within the context of their own setting or circumstances (Spencer et al, 2003). Qualitative research is an arena to explore and understand individuals or communities, social situation, event or role. It is a process by which the researcher investigates and understands a particular phenomenon and in most of the cases it could be a social phenomenon by comparing, contrasting, recording and classifying the object of study. According to Creswell (2003), Qualitative Research is concerned with process rather than the outcomes. It takes place in a natural setting as the researcher goes to the site and understands the life of the individual or the community in depth in their own natural social settings. He acknowledges that in qualitative research the researcher is the primary instrument for data collection. And it uses various interactive and humanistic data collection methods. The most important feature of qualitative research, which could be its strength as well as a weakness is that it is emergent. One notes and makes changes in their research and questions as the researcher get a better understanding of the social aspects in the field. Social scientists identify a number of approaches to do qualitative research like ethnography, grounded theory, phenomenological research and case study (Creswell, 2003). Case Study as a Strategy of Inquiry

My research in Thailand is going to be an opportunity to study more about the Pred Nai Community in the Trat province of Thailand. This is a community, which won the United Nations Equator Initiative Prize for its involvement in participatory and community based forestry program aiming at the protection of the mangrove forests in the region (Senyk, 2005). The objective of my research is to study the cross scale institutional linkages of the Pred Nai Community Forestry Group and its impacts on other organizations. Through my research, I would also like to look into the ecological knowledge of the community and response to current environmental issues including those due to climate change. I am trying to get as close as to the subject of interest here, the Pred Nai community, partly through observation and partly through interaction and participation with in the community. This is a unique community and there is a lot still to be learnt from them. Conducting semi structured interviews, focus groups and transect walks are going to help in collecting the data for my research. I believe transect walks would be an excellent way to get the villager’s perspective about the changes that happened after 2005 and their reaction to other activities that is happening in the community. The goal of my research is to produce a descriptive and in depth account of the Pred Nai community and the changes that they went through of historical significance. Case study is the best research strategy that will suit to this scenario. It would enable me to get into the community and study the phenomenon at much closer level, as I could be in constant social interaction in their natural environment. Case Study is one among those strategies that explores a phenomenon in predefined procedures. According to Yin (2003), “Case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident” (Yin, 2003). It encompasses, the logic of design, data collection procedures and specific approaches to analyzing the collected data. Hence case studies...
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