Social Theory & Health

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 465–481 | Cite as

The use of abduction in alienation research: A rationale and a worked example

  • Chris YuillEmail author
Original Article


Abduction as a form of inference is recommended as a means of analysis within theory-driven research. Its capacity to provide creative (re)interpretations of data that add to a theory allowing it to become a growing dynamic and nuanced body of thought is highly appealing. For Marxist research into alienation, abduction has that advantage but also assists in overcoming one of the central problems that hinder the theory’s development and use in the 1960s and 1970s: the inability to productively articulate theoretical insights with empirical findings. What abduction involves as a form of analysis is laid out here before proceeding to discuss in greater depth its utility for research into alienation and the laying out of a worked example of how abduction was applied in an actual instance of research. A way forward for research driven by alienation theory is therefore established which could lead to wider re-engagement with what should be a core concern of sociology.


abduction agency alienation Marx methodology work 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Applied Social StudiesRobert Gordon UniversityAberdeenScotland, UK

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