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The Application of Abductive and Retroductive Inference for the Design and Analysis of Theory-Driven Sociological Research


  • Samantha B. Meyer
  • Belinda Lunnay


Abductive and retroductive inference are innovative tools of analysis which enable researchers to refine and redevelop social theory. This paper describes and demonstrates how to apply these tools to strengthen sociological theory-driven empirical research outputs. To illustrate how abductive and retroductive inference work for the benefit of enhanced qualitative analysis we present the findings of a qualitative study that investigated heart disease patients’ trust in medical professionals (n=37). We outline the research process using a six-stage model developed by Danermark et al. (1997) that will guide researchers doing exploratory research in how to use abductive and retroductive inference in qualitative research design and analysis. A snapshot of the study findings are provided for illustration purposes. The reader will learn how the application of these under-utilized methodological tools provides a novel way of analyzing sociological research.

Suggested Citation

  • Samantha B. Meyer & Belinda Lunnay, 2013. "The Application of Abductive and Retroductive Inference for the Design and Analysis of Theory-Driven Sociological Research," Sociological Research Online, , vol. 18(1), pages 86-96, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:socres:v:18:y:2013:i:1:p:86-96
    DOI: 10.5153/sro.2819

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raza Mir & Andrew Watson, 2001. "Critical realism and constructivism in strategy research: toward a synthesis," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(12), pages 1169-1173, December.
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