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A realist approach to thematic analysis: making sense of qualitative data through experiential, inferential and dispositional themes

journal contribution
posted on 24.11.2021, 16:56 by Gareth WiltshireGareth Wiltshire, Noora Ronkainen
Thematic analysis (TA) is the most widely used method for analysing qualitative data. Recent debates, highlighting the binary distinctions between reflexive TA grounded within the qualitative paradigm and codebook TA with neo-positivist orientations, have emphasized the existence of numerous tensions that researchers must navigate to produce coherent and rigorous research. This article attempts to resolve some of these tensions through developing an approach to TA underpinned by realist philosophy of science. Focusing on interview data, we propose the use of three types of themes (experiential, inferential and dispositional) and the use of corresponding validity indicators (empirical adequacy, ontological plausibility and explanatory power). Using an illustrative example, we outline the conceptual foundations of a realist approach to TA and present recommendations for conducting it in practice. This approach, we claim, reconciles several existing binaries between distinctive types of TA by incorporating the contributions of both for the development of different types of themes.

History

School

  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

Journal of Critical Realism

Volume

20

Issue

2

Pages

159 - 180

Publisher

Taylor and Francis

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Publisher statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Critical Realism on 19 Mar 2021, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14767430.2021.1894909.

Acceptance date

22/02/2021

Publication date

2021-03-19

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

1476-7430

eISSN

1572-5138

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Gareth Wiltshire. Deposit date: 23 November 2021