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Qualitative Research and Theory Development
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Qualitative Research and Theory Development
Mystery as Method



May 2011 | 144 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Empirical data is one of the cornerstones of knowledge in the social sciences, and yet the researcher often takes it for granted, reserving his or her imaginative faculties for finding a theory that 'fits the data'. This revealing account of the theory-data relationship calls this faith in data into question and establishes a reflexive framework and vocabulary to explore the creative, political and philosophical elements of data production.

Rather than thinking about the theory-data 'fit', Alvesson and Karreman will encourage you to consider the research process as one of theory-data interplay, asking if creative empirical material can challenge established theory and inspire new lines of development, and if breakdowns and mysteries encountered in research can be a constructive rather than destructive process.

They will encourage you to think critically about empirical data in terms of construction rather than verification, and most importantly they will encourage you to develop theory that is interesting and novel, rather than naive or irrelevant, making this title essential reading for those who often find the traditional vocabulary and frameworks of social science research obvious or simplistic.

 
The Use of Empirical Material for Theory Development
 
The Role of Constructions and Language in Empirical Research
 
Key Methodological Principles for Detecting Mysteries
 
A Methodology of Sorts for Theorizing from Empirical Material
 
Illustrating the Development and Resolution of Mysteries
 
Fieldwork Techniques and Mystery Creation
 
Research Guided or Assisted by Mystery?

Mats Alvesson is masterful in showing us how to create new theories from grounded empirical materials. I highly recommend this book as a guide and reference on theory building
Andrew H. Van de Ven
Vernon H. Heath Professor of Organizational Innovation and Change, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota


Thank you Mats Alvesson for an altogether engaging, sophisticated, and inspiring account of the research process and its significance. With the emergence of a social constructionist view of science, questions concerning the function of research and theory have been paramount. In this highly readable volume, we are rewarded with a rich and practically useful resolution to these problems. This is no small undertaking, and I recommend the work with enthusiasm to both seasoned academics and beginning students
Professor Kenneth J. Gergen
Swarthmore College, US


Concise, informative, and provocative... Alvesson and Kärreman have not suggested abandoning qualitative research methods; they have instead offered a helpful book for when our ideas and methods break down into mysteries seeking as yet untried ideas and methods
The Qualitative Report


As these issues are at the core of the research process, they should be of interest to all researchers regardless of their discipline or stage in their career...I welcome the invitation to explore the extent to which, as a researcher, I have a personal need to place ‘order and control’ on to the topic areas that I research. I also welcome the authors’ invitation to be more creative within the research process
Dr Nina Burrowes
Social Research Association News



This book guides researchers with specific suggestions regarding the mysteries that go beyond the commonly known analysis methods. Readers can become skillful at using empirical data as input in developing theory.

Penny Burge
Virginia Tech, USA
Educational Review

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