Researching voluntary and community action: The potential of qualitative case studies

Duncan Scott and Lynne Russell
24th Jun 2005

A review of the use of qualitative case studies when researching the voluntary and community sectors.

This voluntary and community sectors are more prominent in policy discussions than at any time since the establishment of the modern welfare state. But there is no well-researched body of knowledge about the sectors. This study explores what we can learn from qualitative case studies and suggests ways in which their use can be further developed in the future.

Based on a series of case studies and evaluations of voluntary organisations and community groups, the study explores:

  • Popular and academic conceptions of a 'case study'
  • Contrasting views on the analytic contribution of this type of research
  • The rhetoric and reality of undertaking qualitative case studies
  • The impact of these approaches in the voluntary and community sectors
  • How researchers – specialist and non-specialist – can contribute to the use of different forms of qualitative case studies.