Difference Between Case Study and Phenomenology

Key Difference – Case Study vs Phenomenology
 

In the Social Sciences, case study and phenomenology refer to two widely know terms, between which some differences can be viewed. One of the key differences between a case study and phenomenology that one can identify is that a case study is a research method that allows the researcher to comprehend an individual, a group or else a particular event. Phenomenology, on the other hand, is a methodology as well as a philosophy. In Phenomenology, attention is paid to the lived experiences of people. Through this article let us gain a better understanding of the two terms as well as the differences between the two. Let us begin with the case study.

What is a Case Study?

A case study can be defined as a research method that is used to investigate an individual, a group of people or an event.  This allows the researcher to broaden his understanding of the research subject and go beyond the surface. Mainly case studies are used in various sciences such as in psychology, political science, and even sociology. A case study is composed of a number of research techniques. Based on the research, the researcher can use one or many of the techniques. Interviews and observation are some of the mostly used techniques. For an example, through an in-depth interview the researcher can gain a better understanding of the research problem, as it allows him to go beyond the observable factors.

In psychology, the case study method has a special function. In the earlier days, it was used in clinical medicine. This provided the doctor a clear understanding of the condition of patient before prescribing medication, and also understands the previous medication, and problems that the individual has encountered. This can even include personal information of the patient and his experiences. The significance of the case study method is that it allows the researcher to comprehend a particular problem in a deep manner. It also allows him to be open to rich and descriptive data. This is why a case study can be considered as a qualitative research method. Now let us move on to Phenomenology.

Difference Between Case Study and Phenomenology

What is Phenomenology?

Unlike the case study, Phenomenology, is a philosophical approach as well as a methodology. The influence it had on various social sciences is massive. For instance, it was able to influence the philosophical trends of Sociology as well as Psychology. Phenomenology was mainly developed by Alfred Schutz, Peter Burger, and Luckmann. Schutz emphasized that people take everyday realities for granted. He further states that the role of the researcher should be to analyze these realities so that he can understand the meanings that people allocate for various phenomena in the society.

The manner, in which people comprehend the world around them, is never objective. Instead, it is very subjective. However, the world is created through relations and objects to which people have given specific meaning. The researcher should pay attention to these structures of meaning so that he can also understand the way in which people understand the world.

Key Difference - Case Study vs Phenomenology

Alfred Schutz

What is the Difference Between Case Study and Phenomenology?

Definitions of Case Study and Phenomenology:

Case Study: A case study can be defined as a research method that is used to investigate an individual, a group of people or an event.

Phenomenology: Phenomenology is a research methodology as well as a philosophy that explores the lived experiences of people as well as the structures of meaning.

Characteristics of Case Study and Phenomenology:

Focus:

Case Study: In a case study, the attention is paid to the individual, a group or an event.

Phenomenology: In Phenomenology, the attention is paid to the lived experiences of individuals.

Nature:

Case Study: A case study is a research method used in a number of disciplines.

Phenomenology: Phenomenology is a philosophy as well as a methodology used mainly in the social sciences.

Type of Data:

Case Study: A case study produces rich, qualitative data.

Phenomenology: Phenomenology produces qualitative data that mainly explore the subjective meanings that people produce and sustain.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Student research union” by Taty19555 – Own work. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

2. Alfred Schutz [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons