Chapter 10: Abduction – The Logic of Discovery of Grounded Theory


Reichertz, J. (2009). Abduction: The Logic of Discovery of Grounded Theory. The SAGE Handbook of Grounded Theory, 214-228. doi:10.4135/9781848607941.n10

By Jo Reichertz (214)

  • Grounded theory is split in two-directions:
  • Strauss and Corbin:
    • Strauss: Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists (1987)
    • Strauss and Corbin: Basics of Qualitative Research (1990)
    • “Theoretical pre-knowledge flows into the data’s interpretation”
  • Glaser:
    • Codes and categories emerge directly from the data
  • Abduction is a concept revisited by Peirce;
  • Grounded theory became more abductive in the work of Strauss and Corbin

Abduction: A Rule-governed Way to New Knowledge

  • Abduction was introduced in 1597 and revisited by Peirce (1839-1914)
  • Abduction is:
    • Logical inference
    • Reasonable, scientific
    • Leads to new knowledge
    • “intended to help social research… to make new discoveries in a logically and methodologically ordered way.”
    • Rule-governed way to produce new knowledge

Deduction, Quantitative and Qualitative Induction, Abduction

  • Abduction leads to new discovery by “bring[ing] together things which one had never associated with one another.” It occurs when no pre-existing theory is tested.
  • To conduct abduction, you have to be in an environment that will help you be in tune with your sensibilities and intuition. You have to allow your mind to wander without a specific goal
  • Absolute certainty can’t be achieved in abduction because the collection and analysis can theoretically continue forever. Therefore, generalization with one absolute truth is not the goal
  • The goal of GT is not about finding / confirming an absolute truth
  • GT is not just a coding paradigm; new hypotheses and categories can constantly form in abduction
  • Author claims there are strong connections between Strauss and Corbin’s GT methods to Peirce’s research in abduction
  • Abduction is used in Strauss and Corbin’s GT approach