analytical inductiona method of analysis (originally formulated by Lindesmith, 1947), used especially in SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM and other forms of‘qualitative sociology’, which involves the application of a general hypothesis to successive cases, with progressive modification of the generalization to fit all cases (see Robinson, 1951). The researcher formulates an hypothesis to explain a particular phenomenon and then attempts to search for a ‘decisive negative case’. If one is found, the hypothesis is reformulated to include or disallow it, the process being followed until a degree of certainty can be claimed. The method is seen at work in BECKER’s study of marijuana usage (Becker, 1953; see also DRUG TAKING FOR PLEASURE). As with any inductive method, the attempt must always be made to seek out contrary cases, but there is never any clear end point when a generalization can be regarded as final (see INDUCTION). See also GROUNDED THEORY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000