Abduction, Deduction and Induction.

Abduction, deduction and induction sounds like  a process that a religious cult would use in order to gain new recruits.  In fact, they are all are research methods used in qualitative research.  The aim of this blog post is to order my thoughts and understandings of the terms and to produce a coherent (at least to me) piece on the three terms.

Research methods are linked to theory and how theory is formulated and tested.  Mason (2010) states there are at least  models which show how theory relates to research.

  1. Theory is primary.  Research and analysis is utilised to rest the theory.
  2. Theory comes last and is generated through data and analysis.
  3. Theory, data collection and analysis occurs concurrently.

Each of these approaches can be linked to different research philosophies.  Deductive reasoning is linked to the theory is primary approach (Blaikie, 2000).  Inductive reasoning points to a theory comes last philosophy and abductive reasoning is linked to a more dialectical process of theory, data collection and analysis (Blaikie, 2000 and Mason, 2010).

Abduction is concerned with understanding human behaviour within the social situation which it takes place and as such cannot be undertaken in an experimental situation (Reichertz, 2004).  The aim is for the researcher to understand the behaviour and situation as well as the social actors themselves would.

Challenges include becoming too close to the research subjects and appearing to empathise with their position (Bryman, 2012).


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