Skip to main content OPRFHS Library Home Page

Stovall/Farrow/McMurray - Jr. Theme: Case Study

Selecting a CASE STUDY that is relevant to your topic and helps to develop your THESIS STATEMENT.


A case study is a specific, topic driven example of an individual or a group who illustrates a real-life representation of your thesis statement.  This individual or group may have succeeded or failed in achieving the American Dream, but they prove your argument.  This individual(s) had a first hand experience with the American Dream, and they can therefore offer an insider perspective of a particular event.



Case studies can come in different forms.  You can use a:

  • Research study
  • Biography or Autobiography
  • Personal Narrative
  • Court Case Brief



When reading sources about your “Case Study”:

  1. Consider how your definition of the American Dream compares to the definition embedded in the scenario.
  2. Pay attention to obstacles that your individual or individuals faced and perhaps overcame to achieve the American Dream.
  3. Does this individual or group of people or the author who writes about them have a bias as it relates to your issue?  Identify places where you may notice this.
  4. KEY QUESTION:  Is the situation in this case study an example of a conventional/common experience or a unique/exceptional experience?  Does it represent the exception or the rule?



Examples of case studies include:

  • On the topic of the influence of socio-economic status - Chris Gardner, who went from being evicted in his apartment to forming his own multimillion dollar firm.
  • On the topic of race  - Rosa Parks, who fought for the ability for all Americans--regardless of the color of their skin-- to achieve the American Dream, died poor and destitute.
  • On the topic of gender - Gavin Grimm, a transgender male, who filed a widely supported court case to be able to use the restroom of his gender identity, faces setbacks in current political climate.



If you are struggling, check in with me for a brief conference, and we will look for a case study together.