On Generalization in Qualitatively Oriented Research


  • Philipp Mayring Universität Klagenfurt




generalization, qualitative research, single case analysis


In this article, I open a debate about the importance and possibilities of generalization in qualitative oriented research. Generalization traditionally is seen as a central aim of science, as a process of theory formulation for further applications. Others criticize the concept in general, either because of the insufficiency of inductive arguments (POPPER, 1959) or because of context specificity of all scientific findings (LINCOLN & GUBA, 1985). In this paper, I argue that generalization is necessary in qualitative research, but we have to differentiate different aims of generalization: laws, rules, context specific statements, similarities and differences, and procedures. There are different possibilities to arrive at a generalization: analysis of total population, falsification, random or stratified samples, argumentative generalization, theoretical sampling, variation, and triangulation. Depending on the type of research or research design some of those strategies of generalization can be important for qualitative oriented research. This is discussed especially in respect to single case analysis. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0703262


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Author Biography

Philipp Mayring, Universität Klagenfurt

Philipp MAYRING (http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs/beirat/mayring-e.htm) is professor for psychology at the Institute for Psychology of University of Klagenfurt. He is leading the department for Applied Psychology and Methodological Research of the institute and the Center for Evaluation and Research Consulting of the University of Klagenfurt in Austria. His research areas are qualitative content analysis, mixed methodology, evaluation and applied topics in the fields of health and well-being, education and life long development."



How to Cite

Mayring, P. (2007). On Generalization in Qualitatively Oriented Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-8.3.291



FQS Debate: Quality of Qualitative Research