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Model Cases: On Canonical Research Objects and Sites
by Monika Krause
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Cloth: 978-0-226-78066-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-78083-2 | eISBN: 978-0-226-78097-9
Library of Congress Classification H61.K658 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 300.721


We all know scientists study a predictable set of organisms when performing research, whether they be mice, fruit flies, or less commonly known but widely used species of snail or worm. But when we think of the so-called humanistic social sciences, we envision a different kind of research attuned to historical power relations or the unique experiences of a social group. In Model Cases, sociologist Monika Krause uncovers the ways the humanities and social sciences are shaped by and dependent on a set of canonical research objects of their own, often in unacknowledged ways.

Krause shows that some research objects are studied repeatedly and shape the understanding of more general categories in disproportionate ways. For instance, Chicago comes to be the touchstone for studies of the modern city or Michel Foucault's analysis of Bentham's prison a guiding light for understanding contemporary power relations. Moving through classic cases in the social sciences, Krause reveals the ways canonical examples and sites have shaped research and theory, showing how they can both help and harm the production of knowledge. In the end, she argues, model cases have great potential to serve scholarship—as long as they are acknowledged and examined with acuity.


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