Criteria For Evaluating Adequacy Of Case Study: John Dollard (Dollard, 1935) specified seven criteria for evaluating the adequacy of a case or life history in the context of social research.
i. The subject being studied must be viewed as a specimen in a cultural set up. That is, the case selected from its total context for the purpose of study should be considered a member of the particular cultural group or community. The scrutiny of the life history of the individual must be carried out with a view to identify the community values, standards and shared ways of life.
ii. The organic motors of action should be socially relevant. This is to say that the action of the individual cases should be viewed as a series of reactions to social stimuli or situations. To put in simple words, the social meaning of behaviour should be taken into consideration.
iii. The crucial role of the family-group in transmitting the culture should be recognized. This means, as an individual is the member of a family, the role of the family in shaping his/her behaviour should never be ignored.
iv. The specific method of conversion of organic material into social behaviour should be clearly demonstrated. For instance, case-histories that discuss in detail how basically a biological organism, that is man, gradually transforms into a social person are particularly important.
v. The constant transformation of character of experience from childhood to adulthood should be emphasized. That is, the lifehistory should portray the inter-relationship between the individual’s various experiences during his/her life span. Such a study provides a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s life as a continuum.
vi. The ‘social situation’ that contributed to the individual’s gradual transformation should carefully and continuously be specified as a factor. One of the crucial criteria for life-history is that an individual’s life should be depicted as evolving itself in the context of a specific social situation and partially caused by it.
vii. The life-history details themselves should be organized according to some conceptual framework, which in turn would facilitate their generalizations at higher levels.
These criteria discussed by Dollard emphasize the specific link of co-ordinated, related, continuous and configured experience in a cultural pattern that motivated the social and personal behaviour.
Although, the criteria indicated by Dollard are principally perfect, some of them are difficult to put to practice. Dollard (1935) attempted to express the diverse events depicted in the life-histories of persons during the course of repeated interviews by utilizing psycho-analytical techniques in a given situational context. His criteria of life-history originated directly from this experience. While the life-histories possess independent significance as research documents, the interviews recorded by the investigators can afford, as Dollard observed, “rich insights into the nature of the social situations experienced by them”. It is a well-known fact that an individual’s life is very complex.
Till date there is hardly any technique that can establish some kind of uniformity, and as a result ensure the cumulative of case-history materials by isolating the complex totality of a human life. Nevertheless, although case history data are difficult to put to rigorous analysis, a skilful handling and interpretation of such data could help in developing insights into cultural conflicts and problems arising out of cultural-change.