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Generalizing: The descriptive struggle

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Author(s): Barney G. Glaser, Ph.D.; Hon Ph.D.

Journal: Grounded Theory Review : an International Journal
ISSN 1556-1542

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: generalizing | discriptive gereralizations | Qualitative Data Analysis

ABSTRACT
The literature is not kind to the use of descriptive generalizations. Authors struggle and struggle to find and rationalize a way to use them and then fail in spite of trying a myriad of work-arounds. And then we have Lincoln and Guba’s famous statement: “The only generalization is: there is no generalization” in referring to qualitative research. (op cit, p. 110) They are referring to routine QDA yielding extensive descriptions, but which tacitly include conceptual generalizations without any real thought of knowledge about them. In this chapter I wish to explore this struggle for the purpose of explaining that the various contra arguments to using descriptive generalizations DO NOT apply to the ease of using conceptual generalizations yielded in SGT and especially FGT. I will not argue for the use of descriptive generalization. I agree with Lincoln and Guba with respect to QDA, “the only generalization is: there is no generalization.” It is up to the QDA methodologists, of whom there are many; to continue the struggle and I wish them well.
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