Debates on ‘case studies and generalization' have been too strongly committed to dualisms (general/specific, explanation/understanding) that polarize social science into natural-science-inspired and humanities-inspired camps. One should be aware of a third option, a pragmatist (participationist) attitude. Rather than relying on parallels with external academic fields, this attitude thinks about research with reference to the conduct of social science only. This article discusses these three attitudes with reference to a single case study of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict (asking why that conflict became one of the deepest and most persistent conflicts in recent history). The three attitudes imply different strategies of generalization and specification. The single case study of the Middle East conflict relies on a pragmatist strategy of generalization and the rest of the methodological discussion shows how this strategy transcends the general/specific or explanation/ understanding dichotomies.