A Theory of Multiple-Case Research


  • I gratefully acknowledge the comments of Kenneth Gergen

should be addressed to George C Rosenwald, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 580 Union Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109


ABSTRACT Psychologists have generally neglected the detailed study of lives because it has not seemed to contribute to the formulation of general truths The insistence that each life is unique and therefore incomparable has shaped the modern disciplines of personality and social psychology, segregating them from each other and blocking a clear view of how social facts and psychological processes inform each other In the proposed model of multiple-case study, individual cases, captured through intensive exploratory interviews, are brought into “conversation” with one another This permits shared realities to be reconstructed out of individuals' perspectival images But in daily life such reconstructions often fail to be made because the social conditions favorable to a conversation among those viewing a shared reality from characteristic vantage points (for instance, oppressors and oppressed, or even fellow victims) are not met The resulting silence itself must become a topic of conversation before social knowledge can be created or social problems solved The pertinent epistemological presuppositions are illustrated by reference to sample multiple-case studies