African Society Case Study

Category: Alcoholism, Personality
Last Updated: 12 Apr 2021
Pages: 12 Views: 82
Table of contents

This study seek to highlight why some people in the case study felt that alcohol controlled behavior. This case study analysis individual unit ( e.g a person, group, or event) stressing developmental factors in relation to the study. The case study is common in social sciences and life sciences. Case studies may be descriptive or explanatory. The later type is used to explore causation in order to find underlying principles. They maybe prospective, in which criteria are established and cases fitting the criteria are included as they become available, or retrospective, in which criteria are established for selecting cases from historical records for including in the study.

It also highlight how a belief in ancestors related to behavior (e.g overlooking ancestral directives, there by getting cursed and how some one blamed the behavior of some people on the names they were given from birth. The assertion that the person's behavior after which a child was named determined the behavior of the person who bore the name afterwards. And the extent theory of nature/reflection in the case study.

Furthermore, this case study analyze the validity that behavior is a matter of tradition (e.g up bring of children by parents.

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According to Thomas (2011) "case studies are analyses of persons, events, decisions, periods, projects, policies, institutions, or other systems that are studied holistically by one or more methods. The case that is the subject of the inquiry will be an instance of a class of phenomena that provides an analytical frame- an object- within which the study is conducted and which the case illuminates and explicates"

Silverman (2005) reveals that, rather than using samples following a rigid protocol (strict set of rules) to examine limited number of valuables, case study methods involve an in- depth, longitudinal (over a long period of time) examination of a single instance or event: a case. They provide a systematic way of looking at events, collecting data, analyzing information, and reporting the results. As a result the researcher may gain a sharpened understanding of why the instance happened as it did, and what might become important to look at more extensively in future research. Case studies lend themselves to both generating and testing hypothesis.

According to Lamneck (2005) another suggestion is that case study should be defined as a research strategy, an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within it's real- life context. Case study research means single and multiple case studies, can include quantitative evidence, relies on multiple sources of evidence and benefits from the prior development of theoretical propositions. Case studies should not be confused with qualitative research and they can be based on any mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Single- subject research provides the statistical framework for making inferences from qualitative case- study data. This also supported and well formulated in (Lamneck, 2005): "the case study is a research approach, situated between concrete data taking techniques and methodological paradigms".

The case study is sometimes mistaken for the case method, but the two are not the same.

Generalizing from Case Studies

Kyekye (1996) states that, a critical case can be defined as having strategic importance in relation to the general problem (e.g like in Mwense district research where some people in the case study felt that alcohol controlled behavior)

A critical case allows the following type of generalization, 'if it is valid for this case, it is valid for all (or many) cases.' In it's negative form, the generalization would be, 'if it is not valid in this case, then it is not valid for any (or only few) cases.'( Lamnek, 2005).

According to Karl popper, the case study is also effective for generalizing using the type of test called falsification, which forms part of critical reflexivity. Falsification is one of the most rigorous tests to which a scientific proposition can be subjected: if just one observation does not fit with the proposition it is considered not valid generally and must therefore be either revised or rejected. Popper him self used the now famous example, "All swans are white, and proposed that just one observation of a single black swan would falsify this proposition and this way have general significance and stimulate further investigations and theory- building. The case study is well suited for identifying "black swans" because of it's in- depth approach: what appear to be "white" often turns on closer examination to be "black" By selecting cases strategically in this manner one may arrive at case studies that allow generalization (Flyrbjerg, 2006, P. 225-6).

Misunderstandings About Case Study Research

According to Flyrbjerg (2006) identifies and corrects five prevalent misunderstanding about case study research:

  • General, theoretical Knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical knowledge.
  • One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case and, therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development.
  •  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building.
  •  The case study contains a bias towards verification, i.e, a tendency to comfirm the researcher's preconceived notions.
  • It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies.(Osei, 1971).

According to a research which was conducted in Mwense district some people in the case study felt that alcohol controlled behavior and to add value to the case study:

In the first stage of alcoholism, drinking was no longer social but became a means of emotional escape from problems, inhibitions, anxiety, and in many instances, from realities of life. Stated in another way, early in the disease problem drinkers starts to depend on the mood altering capabilities of alcohol consumption. Also at this stage of alcoholism, a gradual increase in tolerance develops, meaning that increasing amounts of alcohol are needed in order for the problem drinker to "feel the buzz" or to "get high".(Flyvbjerg, 2006).

Furthermore, it is common for people with a drinking problem in the first stage of alcoholism to quickly drink a few alcoholic beverage before attending social functions and to increase social drinking to 3 to 5 drinks per day. Obviously, it can be determined that such behavior will eventually result in a host of drinking problems.

In the second stage of alcoholism, the need to drink becomes more intense. During this stage of the disease, the individual with the drinking problem frequently starts to drink earlier in the day.(Lamnek, 2005)

As tolerance increases, moreover, the person drinks because of dependence on alcohol, rather than because of emotional and psychological stress and anxiety relief. During this stage, loss of control does not yet happen on a regular basis; it is however, gradually observed by others such as neighbors, co- workers, relatives, friends, and family members.

In the third stage of alcoholism, the loss of control becomes more pronounced and more problematic. This means that the problem drinker is usually unable to drink according to his or her intentions. for example, once the person takes the first drink, he or she can no longer control what will happen, even though the intention might have been to have one or two drinks. During this stage of the disease, most problem drinkers start to experience serious alcohol- related, financial, employment, legal, and relationship problems.(Robert, 1970).

The fourth and final stage of alcoholism is characterized by a chronic loss of control. In the earlier stages of the disease, the alcoholic may have been successful in maintaining a job. Now, however, drinking starts earlier in the day and usually continues throughout the day. Few, if any, full- time work positions, however, can be maintained once an individual has reached this state of affairs.(Thomas,2011).

Classic Alcoholic Behavior

The term "alcoholism" means the same thing as "alcohol dependence," "alcohol addiction, "and "alcohol dependence."

Hence, some people in the case study felt that alcohol controlled behavior in Mwense district because of the information articulated above, it is clear that the four stages of classic alcoholic behavior do not point a pretty picture of the sad realities and the drinking problems that most chronic alcoholics experience in Mwanse district. In fact, it is clear that as the disease progresses, so do the drinking problems that are experienced by the alcoholic. Perhaps the damaging and unhealthy consequences of this disease might not make much of an impact on those who are already alcohol dependant. It is hoped, however, that exposing the facts about this disease to our youth before they start abusing alcohol will prevent many of the teens from suffering the grim fate of most alcoholics.

Belief in Ancestors Relates to Behavior

A belief is a degree of certainty we have that something is true. Our core beliefs are often based on the beliefs of other people we unconsciously accepted as true when we were too young to decide if the person's belief really served us.(Osei, 1971).

Hence, ancestral belief refers to a generalized belief about the amount of control people have over their own lives. Individuals who feel that they are very much in charge of their won destiny have an internal locus of control; those who think that events in their life are due mainly to fate/luck or powerful others have an external locus of control. Locus of control is a generalized belief, so people with an external locus can feel in control in familiar situations. (Steven L. Mcshane et al. 2005).

Moreover, from the research, we have suggested that perception of people and events is organized into categories. How this is done depends partly on sensation, partly on the principles of perception, and partly on the nature of the individual. Another fact of the individual is the set of attitudes that he/she holds.

Attitudes are, essentially, "feelings" towards people or things. How people feel, what they believe, what they intend to do, and whether and how they do it may all be connected, and may all be related to the process of perception.

However, to try to reduce the confusion in this area over the use of words and concepts such as "feelings" and "beliefs" Fishbein (1967) put forward the following hierarchical model:

  • Beliefs: What we think about people, things, relationship e.t.c
  • Attitudes: Affective responses to those people, things, relationships e.t.c
  • Intentions
  • Cognitive states
  • Behavior or Action
  • Observable events

The Theory of Nature/Reflected In The Case Study

The extent theory of nature/reflection in the case study refers to the personality. Personality defined as the pattern of relatively enduring ways in which a person feels, thinks and behaves.

Fincham R. describes personality as the relatively enduring combination of traits which makes an individual unique and at the same time produces consistencies in his or her thought and behavior. A similar definition Rollision Derk defines personality as, 'those relatively stable and enduring aspects of an individual that distinguish him/her from other people and at the same time form a basis for our predictors concerning his/her future behavior (Rollison D., 1998).

A complementary definition, Robbins Stephen defines personality as the sum total of ways in which an individual reacts and interacts with others. It is a relatively stable pattern of behaviors and consistent internal states that explain a person's behavioral tendencies.

Hence, we say that personality explains behavioral tendencies because individuals' actions are not perfectly consistent with their personality profile in every situation. Personality traits are less evident in situations where social norms, reward systems and other conditions contrain behavior.

Traits may be defined as individual characteristics of thought or feeling that result in tendencies to have in specific ways. Also traits may be defined as enduring characteristics that describe an individual's behavior. The more consistent the characteristic and the more frequently important that trait is in describing an individual. Traits can additionally be grouped to form personality types. Traits may be grouped into groups namely; surface traits and source traits. Surface traits for example assertiveness, can be observed in behavior while, source traits such as self- discipline can be inferred.(Rollinson, D. et ,1998).

Behavior And Tradition

According to Robert (1970) refer human behavior as a range of behaviors exhibited by humans and which are influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethies, authority, rapport, hypnosis, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics.

Hence, the behavior of people (and other organisms or even mechanisms) falls within a range with some behavior being common, some unusual, some acceptable, and some outside acceptable limits. In sociology, behavior in general is considered as having no meaning, being not directed at other people, and thus is the most basic human action. Behavior in this general sense should not be mistaken with social behavior, which is the more advanced action, as social behavior is behavior specifically directed at other people. The acceptability of behavior is evaluated relative to social norms and regulated by various means of social control.

In addition, the behavior of people is studied by the academic disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, social work, sociology, economics, and anthropology.

Factors affecting human behavior and actions

Mcshane et al (2005) states five factors as below:

  • Genetics (see also evolutionary psychology) - affects and governs the individual's tendencies towards certain directions.
  • Attitude - the degree to which the person has a favorable or unfavorable evaluation of the behavior in question.
  • Social norms - the influence of social pressure that is perceived by the individual (normative beliefs) to perform or not perform a certain behavior.
  • Perceived behavioral control - the individual's belief concerning how easy or difficult performing the behavior will be.
  • Core faith - the person's set of beliefs, like religion, philosophy, e.t.c provided sometimes subconsciously, by his or her family, peers, social media, and the society where he or she lives.

Social Factors

Factors that influence behavior or personality that arise from interacting with other people; early socialization, which consists in interaction with parents, siblings and peers has an effect on the way we act and think. The behaviorist school of psychology which views all human as environmentally determined refer to personality as just accumulated learning experiences (Skinner, 1974). Much of personality comes through learning and so childhood experiences are paramount to the unfolding of personality.

Cultural Factors

According to Kyekye (1996) a wider social beliefs, values and motives that are absorbed by an individual and guide behavior towards that which is acceptable within a particular social context; when high value is placed on achievement and individualism in a certain society, we will find that this may affect individual personality in instilling a trait of 'the need to achieve'.(Shutte, 1993).

Situational Factors

According to Osei (1971) this refers to the effect of a specific experience or situation on a person's feelings and behavior. And individual's personality, while generally stable and consistent, does change in different situations call forth different aspects of one's personality. Situations like church, tradition, a picnic in a picnic in a park do affect behavior differently. Examples here may be trauma of losing a parent or loved one. Certain situation can bring out unrecognized aspects of personality we have never been aware of. Personality development is an ongoing process, but to some degree personalities can be deemed as stable.(Senghor, 1963).

According to Gyekye (1998), regard concepts of the individual and self to be almost totally dependant on and subordinate to social entities and cultural process. Kenya theology professor John S. Miti (1969 and 1992), for example, believes that individual has little latitude for self determination outside the context of the traditional African family and community. He writes: "whatever happens to the individual happens to the whole group, and whatever happens to the whole group happens to the individual. The individual can only say: "I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am.' This is a cardinal point in the understanding of the African view of man" (1969: 109).

Furthermore, Ghanaian philosopher Gyekye (1998), the individual, although originating from and inextricably bound to his family and community, nevertheless possesses a clear concept of himself as a distinct person of volition. It is from this combined sense of personhood and communal membership that the family and community except individuals to take personality enhancing and socially responsible decisions. Although he accepts the dominant entity of African social order is the community, Gyekye believes "it would be more correct to describe that order as amphibious, for it manifests features of both community and individuality. African social thought seeks to avoid the excesses of the two exaggerated systems, while allowing for a meaningful albeit uneasy, interaction between the individual and the society (1988:31-32)

According to senegales philosopher Leopold senghor (1966) regards tradition African society to be "based both on the community and on the person in which, because it was founded on dialogue and reciprocity, the group had priority over the individual without crushing him, but allowing to blossom as a person" (1966:5).

According to South African philosophy professor Shutte (1993), citing the Xhosa proverb umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (a person is a person through persons), writes:

This (proverb) is the xhosa expression of a notion that is common all African languages and traditional cultures. It is concerned both with the peculiar interdependence of persons on others for the exercise, development and fulfillment of their powers that is recognized in African traditional thought, and also with the understanding of what it is to be a person that underlies this. In European philosophy of whatever kind, the self is always envisaged as something "inside" a person, or at least as a kind of container of mental properties and powers. In African thought it is seen as "outside" subsisting in relationship to what is other, the natural and social environment.

According to Ghananian historian Osei (1971) believes that Africa should chart it's future from it's indigenous cultural traditions and adopt only those aspects of no- Africa cultures that are compatible with Africa's needs, goals and circumstances namely, a scientific perspective and western educational practices.

Taking a broader perspective, Thairu (1975) argues for a future of greater regional integration through educational and cultural exchanges within and between African nations. This, he says, will bring into the open pan- Africa cultural similarities, promote more widespread understanding and tolerance on the continent, and contribute to greater overall African unit philosopher Gyekye (1998) shares much of Nyasani, Makgoba and Thairu concern over Africans too often for saking Indigenous African values and their wholesale and uncritical adoption.

According to Gyekye (1996) abhors the fact that ancestors continue to be of paramount importance in modern and traditional African life. He also recommends that for Africa to progress scientifically and technologically, "science should be rescued from the morass of (traditional) African religious and mystical beliefs." Gyekye insists there are main "cultural values and practices of traditional Africa that can be considered positive features of the culture and can be accommodated in the scheme of African modernity, even if they undergo some refinement and pruning to become fully harmonious with the spirit of modern culture and to function........ satisfactorily within that culture "(ibid). he discusses these traditional African values at length under the humanity, brotherhood, communalism and individualism, morality, the family economic system, chief ship and politics, human rights, knowledge and wisdom, aesthetics.


It is clear from the foregoing study that behavior is affected by numerous factors as discussed in this paper. Among the factors are ancestral directives, alcohol, belief, culture, emotions values, ethics, authority, rapport, hypnosis, persuasion, coercion, genetics, attitudes, situational etc.

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African Society Case Study. (2017, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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