Case Studies and Content Analysis


Book references

Cat book: Pg 12-15

Mask book (AS book): Pg 270-293

Digital book: Pg 64-65

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Case Studies

A case study is an in depth investigation, description and analysis.

It involves collecting qualitative data.

Researchers construct a case history - Interviews, questionnaires etc.

Involves testing - producing qualitatative data.

They take place over a length of time - Longitudinal study.

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Advantages of case studies

The rich, detiled insights shed light on unusual or atypical behaviour.

May generate hypothesis for future studies, or may lead to the revision of a theory.

It's a holistic approach.

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Disadvantages of case studies

Can have small sample sizes causing low external validity.

They are based on subjective selection and interpretation of the researcher + personal accounts may be prone to inaccuracy.

Longitudinal studies take a lot of time, effort and are expensive.

Ethics - confidentiality and anonymity.

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Content analysis

Enables indirect study of behaviour through email, games, books, TV, film etc.

Is a type of observation.

The aim is to summarise and describe communication systematically, so that conclustions can be drawn.

Coding: Initial stage, where categories and themes can be identified and tallied - Qualitative data.

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Content analysis - Thematic analysis

Thematic analysis: 

  • Inductive and qualitative approach
  • Identifying ideas within the data
  • Themes may emerge once data has been collected and catagories may develop into broader categories.
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Content analysis - Thematic analysis

Strengths of thematic analysis:

  • Detailed
  • High ecological validity
  • Reduces ethical issues - based on what people are doing
  • Qualitative and quantitative data
  • Easily repeated
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Content analysis - Thematic analysis


  • Interrator reliability is low - Different interpretations 
  • Cultural bias
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