Once again today, I’m not sure whether to be grateful to Twitter for pointing me toward an incredibly useful resource, or irritated with myself due to the apparent ease with which I can be sidetracked from what I am supposed to be doing.
Either way, a Tweet pointed me towards a paper [Low, J. (2019) A Pragmatic Definition of the Concept of Theoretical Saturation. Sociological Focus 52:2, 131-139. doi: 10.1080/00380237.2018.1544514] this morning. It has some excellent advice for anyone undertaking to construct theory through qualitative inquiry. More specifically, it’s very useful for those of us interested in Grounded Theory Method.
So impressed was I by the paper, that I felt compelled to spend a large chunk of my day creating a figure which summarises the questions Low asks in her conclusion, where she suggests that we can establish whether theoretical saturation has been reached by interrogating the robustness of the conceptual model produced. She infers that we have reached theoretical saturation if the conceptual model is shown to be robust.
I think Low provides a comprehensive set of questions, which any qualitative researcher might productively ask of their analysis, model or theory. If my summary is of any use to anyone else, it will make me feel a lot better about having spent such a lot of time on it!
Citations used in the figure are referenced below:
Corbin, J.M. and Strauss, A.L. (1990) Grounded Theory Research: Procedures, Canons, and Evaluative Criteria. Qualitative Sociology 13 (1):3–21. doi: 10.1007/BF00988593
Glaser, B.G. (2001) The Grounded Theory Perspective: Conceptualization Contrasted with Description. Mill Valley, CA: The Sociology Press
Silverman, D. (1998) The Quality of Qualitative Health Research: The Open-Ended Interview and Its Alternative. Social Sciences in Health 4 (2):104–18.
Strauss, A.and Corbin, J.(1990) Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Williams, M. (2000) Interpretivism and Generalisation. Sociology 34 (2):209–24. doi: 10.1177/S0038038500000146