A publication on the case study inquiry

Submitted by Greta on Apr 11, 2016 in Publication

A publication on the case study inquiry

Published in 2015, “Case Studies and the Dissemination of Knowledge” is a book that investigates how case studies have become a vehicle for knowledge within interdisciplinary contexts: law, medicine, criminology, history, and psychoanalysis. The publication, despite being immersed in humanities, challenges the notion that the case study inquiry has to be disciplinary–based. On the contrary, the authors are interested in how case study research serves as a “passage” between disciplines, different types of audiences, and national boundaries. As philosopher Michel Foucault writes, “the case is no longer, as in casuistry or jurisprudence, a set of circumstances defining an act and capable of modifying the application of a rule; it is the individual as he may be described, judged, measured, compared with others, in his very individuality; and it is also the individual who has to be trained or corrected, classified, normalized, excluded, etc.” And, indeed, this book can be perceived as a philosophical inquiry that debates whether case studies are techniques of human generalization through normativity and classification, or whether they serve as a gateway to self–knowledge through subjective experiences, meticulous observations, and dynamic interactions.

Whilst the authors do not focus on psychoanalysis throughout the whole book, its influence and insights in the context of case studies are discussed explicitly in multiple chapters. The book presents Freud’s influence in case study work as profoundly interdisciplinary, allowing to merge the borders between the studies of mind, gender, sexuality, and crime. This can be seen in Warwick Anderson’s opening chapter that investigates the history of the case file in which he presents a counter–discourse between objectifying hospital archives and Freud’s subjective narratives. He concludes that the combination between the two can create an alliance between experts in different disciplines, and enable us for a new comprehension of case studies. Despite its thorough portrayal of psychoanalysis, the underlying discussion in this book ultimately aims to show that psychoanalysis itself is interlinked with other disciplines, and that the human mind does not belong to a sole subject or science. Rather, its emphasis lies in that human studies will always benefit from a multitude of different interdisciplinary approaches as it will broaden our understanding of them.

Full reference of the book: Damousi, Lang, Sutton (2015). Case Studies and the Dissemination of Knowledge. New York and London: Routledge.

Case study inquiry, Humanistic case study, Philosophy, Freudian influence,