Interpretive methodologies position the meaning-making practices of human actors at the center of scientific explanation. Called qualitative research in some disciplines, it is conducted from an experience-near perspective in that the researcher does not start with concepts determined a priori but rather seeks to allow these to emerge from encounters in "the field" which we define here broadly, to encompass both traditional in-country fieldwork, domestic and overseas, and textual-archival research. Interpretive research focuses on analytically disclosing those meaning-making practices, while showing how those practices configure to generate observable outcomes. Interpretive research methodologies and methods are not new but are today in a minority position in political science disciplinary training and mainstream journals. Over the last decade, there has been increasing interest in, and recognition and support of, "qualitative" methods in the social sciences broadly and in the discipline of political science, in particular.
Chapter 1. An Introduction to Sociology – Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition
Using selected examples from within the International Relations literature, this paper aims to provide a brief overview of the main principles and distinctive advantages and limitations of single case study analysis. Divided into three inter-related sections, the paper therefore begins by first identifying the underlying principles that serve to constitute the case study as a particular research strategy, noting the somewhat contested nature of the approach in ontological, epistemological, and methodological terms. The final section of the paper then discusses the most commonly articulated limitations of single case studies; while accepting their susceptibility to criticism, it is however suggested that such weaknesses are somewhat exaggerated. The paper concludes that single case study analysis has a great deal to offer as a means of both understanding and explaining contemporary international relations. It is possible, however, to distil some of the more commonly-agreed principles.
John S. IPE scholars frequently use qualitative methods to contribute to theory-building, but we could get greater value from them. Single case studies are actually a family of research designs: the disciplined interpretive case study, the hypothesis-generating case study, the least-likely, most-likely, and deviant case studies.