Generalizing from Qualitative Research: A Reconceptualization Based on Vocational Learning Examples

  • John GuentherEmail author
  • Ian H. Falk
Reference work entry


The field of research on “generalizing from qualitative research” (for convenience now referred to as GQR) is quite recent. It stems from an era which could be characterized as the “discourse of self-justification” when disclaimers about not generalizing from qualitative research were considered mandatory. Within this discourse of self-justification, there was always – small at first – some acceptance that generalization is possible and occurs. So from within the self-justification, there was also a strand that said “But maybe, just maybe we do? Or we can?”. Our point here is to review the recent field of research and then step back and look at “generalization” in general in its historical sense and follow how generalization, in any form, was always used – in fact it was/is mandatory for survival and became essential as a process in the statistical and scientific communities. To illustrate the processes of generalization in a contemporary applied vocational learning context, we provide two case studies – one from Australia and the other from Indonesia. To conclude, we will revisit GQR in the light of this vocational learning context in order to conceptualize GQR processes without the constraints of definitions based on narrowly proscribed paradigms which limit truth and reality to what can be measured or counted.


Generalization, Qualitative research, Vocational learning, Normative truth, Evidence, Theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary EducationDarwinAustralia
  2. 2.Supervisory BoardIndonesian Biosecurity Foundation IBFBaliIndonesia
  3. 3.University MahasaraswatiBaliIndonesia
  4. 4.University Andi DjemmaPalopo, South SulawesiIndonesia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Karen Evans
  • Natasha Kersh
    • 1
  1. 1.UCL Institute of Education University College LondonLondonUK

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