Interpretative qualitative social science has attempted to distinguish itself from quantitative social science by rejecting traditional or ‘received’ notions of generalization. Traditional concepts of scientific generalization it is claimed are based on a misguided objectivism as to the mechanisms operating in the social world, and particularly the ability of statements to capture such mechanisms in any abstract sense. Instead they propose new versions of the generalizability concept e.g. ‘transferability’, which relies on the context dependent judgement of ‘fit’ between two or more cases instances made by a researcher. This paper argues that the transferability concept, as outlined and argued by interpretativist methodologists, is thoroughly coextensive with notions of generalizability formalized for natural science and naturalistic social science by philosophers and methodologists of science. Therefore, it may be concluded that the interpretativist claim to a break with received scientific traditions is a premature one, at least with regard to the issue of generalization.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 5, 2006
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