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The Grounded Type of Sociological Theory

Some Methodological Reflections

Igor Hanzel

The book analyzes the methods used in the construction of the grounded type of sociological theory. It provides an overview of examples of qualitative research which are used for delineating the principal characteristics of methods employed in the construction of the grounded type of theory. Subject to explication are the characteristics of concepts, categories, and properties of categories employed in this type of theory, as well as the main steps involved in the construction of a grounded type of theory. These steps are explicated by applying the modern logical and methodological treatment of induction, deduction, and abduction.

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4. Metareflections


4. Metareflections

In this part I address the methodological aspects of the above given characteristics of the grounded type of theory. Its principal features can be expressed by the following catch-phrases: cyclical nature of theory construction, a continuous increase of conceptual density in the course of theory construction, and unit busting in the course of theory construction.

After dealing with these features, I will turn to their relations to deduction, induction, and abduction, where the last two – as is usually claimed in the tradition of grounded theory – should play a central role in the course of inference of categories and of properties of categories from data.

4.1 Research cycles, increase of conceptual density and unit busting

The specific feature of the process of theory construction in the tradition of grounded theory is that this construction is of a bi-directional nature: going from data to categories and their properties and from the categories and their properties, via theoretical sampling, “back” to data. So, for example, in (Charmaz 2006, 101) one can read with respect to theoretical sampling the following:

Theoretical sampling is purposeful sampling but it’s purposeful sampling according to categories that one develops from one’s analysis … they’re based on theoretical concerns … Theoretical sampling really makes grounded theory special and is the major strength of grounded theory because theoretical sampling allows you to tighten what I call the corkscrew of the hermeneutic spiral so that you end up with a theory...

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