Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Critical case analysis

core definition

Critical case analysis is the deliberate examination of atypical, extreme, or deviant settings in order to test the limits of applicability of one’s hypotheses.

explanatory context

Alternatively, it is used to refer to studying the unusual or what has been taken for granted in order to suggest new hypotheses.


The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure (Goldthorpe, Lockwood, Bechhofer, and Platt, 1969) is an example of a critical case study, see Critical Social Research Section 2.5 for details.

analytical review

associated issues

Critical incidents

Critical incident research is similar to critical case study. The University of Strathclyde (undated) describes it thus:

Critical Incidents offer an approach to observation which provides a means by which to select what is significant in a given situation and to provide a degree of focus for observation. Critical incidents can thus be seen as a variant of, or supplement to, the diary method. In identifying critical incidents the observer selects key events seen in some way as particularly salient or significant in the situation to be recorded and subsequently analysed.

related areas

See also

critical social research

case study


Goldthorpe, J. H., Lockwood, D., Bechhofer, F & Platt, J., 1969, The Affluent Worker in the Class Structure. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

University of Strathclyde, undated b, 'Advantages and disadvantages of observation', available at, accessed 17 March 2013, page not available 17 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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