Inductive and Deductive Theory

Although the terms inductive and deductive theory suggest that these are, in fact, theories, they are really approaches to thinking and reasoning. In the inductive approach, researchers gather evidence and draw conclusions from it. They may begin with observations through which they can identify patterns. These patterns, in turn, help them formulate initial claims or hypotheses that can be tested. In the deductive approach, researchers may begin with a theory-supported hypothesis, and then gather evidence to support the claim (although sometimes the data may refute it!).

In practice, inductive and deductive theory are not as compartmentalized as the paradigms you explored in this week’s Discussion. A researcher may consider him or herself to be squarely in the conflict paradigm “camp,” and use that as the major framework with which he or she attempts to understand the world. Generally, researchers are neither inductive nor deductive practitioners exclusively, but instead may find that they utilize both within a cycle, with evidence informing hypotheses and hypotheses influencing the types of evidence collected.

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For this Assignment, you perform a close reading of two brief case studies and determine the inductive and deductive characteristics of each.

To Prepare

Read the case studies: “An Example of Inductive Theory: Why Do People Smoke Marijuana?” and “An Example of Deductive Theory: Distributive Justice” from Chapter 2 of the Babbie course text in this week’s Learning Resources.

The Assignment (3–4 pages):

1. Summarize the two case studies and their findings.
2. Define inductive and deductive theory.
3. Explain the specific aspects of these studies that make them either inductive or deductive.

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