sensitizing concept

sensitizing concept

any sociological concept which, in contrast with fully operationalized or ‘definitive concepts’, ‘merely suggests directions along which to look’ (BLUMER, 1954). Whereas ‘definitive concepts have specified empirical referents which can be readily operationalized, e.g. 'social class’ operationalized in terms of income level or years of schooling, sensitizing concepts are less precise. They alert sociologists to certain aspects of social phenomena, e.g. GOFFMAN's concept of MORAL CAREER. However, no hard-and-fast distinction exists between the two kinds of concept.
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But, with few exceptions, embeddedness has remained more of a sensitizing concept, focusing attention on where to look, than a substantive theory or model of how economic organizations and other institutions actually interpenetrate.
Since grounded theory involves development of sensitizing concepts before entering the field, we found the work of Levi-Strauss (1962) to be especially illuminating as his cataloging of general human interaction has impelled the identification of previously overlooked entrepreneurial behaviors such as bricolage (Baker & Nelson, 2005).
The general design of grounded theory involves understanding prior research on the phenomenon under investigation and relevant sensitizing concepts (Blumer, 1954; Bowen, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Padgett, 2004), making empirical observations in the field, iteratively moving between data generation and data analysis, and abstracting themes that emerge from the data with the ultimate goal of organizing and communicating the data through categories, typologies, or ultimately, new theory (Eisenhardt, 1989).
Since we relied on Levi-Strauss's (1962) work to identify the sensitizing concepts of bricolage, art, craft, and engineering, we sought entrepreneurs who had the greatest potential to serve as exemplars of each behavior (Eisenhardt & Graebner, 2007) while, at the same time, illustrating a contrast between behaviors across the cases (Yin, 1984).
We did not develop any type of measurement instrument based on the sensitizing categories nor did we share our a priori sensitizing concepts with our informants.
1) As such, we relied on local business expert opinion for indicators suggesting revelatory patterns of behavior among entrepreneurs that were consistent with our sensitizing concepts.
His other works include Working with Sensitizing Concepts (Sage), Walking the Tightrope: Ethical Issues for Qualitative Researchers (UTP), The Ethics Trapeze: Ethical Issues for Researchers in the Humanities (Special issue of Journal of Academic Ethics), and The Origins of the Bahd'l Community of Canada, 1898-1948 (Wilfrid Laurier University Press).
Data was first organized into substantive codes based on predetermined sensitizing concepts (enhancers and barriers to implementing EBP).
All participants were able to identify enhancers and barriers to implementing EBP, and over 50 substantive codes were revealed, which all fit within the 2 sensitizing concepts.
Such sensitizing concepts as the self and consciousness, grounded in "on-site processes", enable the investigation of cultural reproduction.
This latter chapter is based upon a realist approach, seeking to show that the Bulmerian distinction between definitive and sensitizing concepts is unsatisfactory.