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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods

Michael S. Lewis-Beck & Alan Bryman & Tim Futing Liao

Pub. date: 2004 | DOI:

Print ISBN: 9780761923633 | Online ISBN: 9781412950589

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Encyclopedia Entry

Theoretical Saturation

Janice M. Morse

Theoretical saturation is the phase of qualitative data analysis in which the researcher has continued sampling and analyzing data until no new data appear and all concepts in the theory are well-developed. Concepts and linkages between the concepts that form the theory have been verified, and no additional data are needed. No aspects of the theory remain hypothetical. All of the conceptual boundaries are marked, and allied concepts have been identified and delineated. N EGATIVE CASES must have been identified, verified, saturated, and incorporated into the theoretical scheme. Underlying theoretical saturation is the notion of theoretical sensitivity . The main assumption of theoretical sensitivity is that data analysis is data driven. That is, categories cannot emerge until they “earn their way” into the theoretical scheme (Glaser, The ...

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