Theory Building in Qualitative Research: Reconsidering the Problem of Induction


  • Pedro F. Bendassolli Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte



induction, deduction, qualitative analysis, theory in qualitative research


The problem of induction refers to the difficulties involved in the process of justifying experience-based scientific conclusions. More specifically, inductive reasoning assumes a leap from singular observational statements to general theoretical statements. It calls into question the role of empirical evidence in the theory-building process. In the philosophy of science, the validity of inductive reasoning has been severely questioned since at least the writings of David HUME. At the same time, induction has been lauded as one of the main pillars of qualitative research methods, and its identity as such has consolidated to the detriment of hypothetical-deductive methods. This article proposes reviving discussion on the problem of induction in qualitative research. It is argued that qualitative methods inherit many of the tensions intrinsic to inductive reasoning, such as those between the demands of empiricism and of formal scientific explanation, suggesting the need to reconsider the role of theory in qualitative research.



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Author Biography

Pedro F. Bendassolli, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte

Pedro F. BENDASSOLLI teaches organizational and work psychology at UFRN, Brazil. He authored or edited seven books and published several papers in the fields of work psychology and epistemology. Currently, his research interests include philosophical grounds of qualitative research, and applied themes in organizational and work psychology. Professor BENDASSOLLI holds a doctoral degree in Psychology from the University of São Paulo.




How to Cite

Bendassolli, P. F. (2013). Theory Building in Qualitative Research: Reconsidering the Problem of Induction. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 14(1).



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