Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Synthesis in social science is the process of collating a number of arguments by extracting their essential elements and recombining them as a 'higher level' analysis that incorporates and accounts for these elements.

explanatory context

Synthesis is used in a somewhat more specific sense when considered in relation to dialectics. In this context sythesis is seen as the resolution of contradictions that exist in reality, represented by thesis and antithesis.

analytical review

Encyclopedia of Marxism (1999–2008) deines synthesis as:

The process of combining the parts to form a whole.


MedicineNet (undated) defines synthesis as:

Synthesis: Putting together different entities to make a whole which is new and different. In biochemistry, synthesis refers specifically to the process of building compunds from more elementary subtsances by means of one or more chemical reactions.


BusinessDictionary (2019) deines synthesis as:

1. Systematic combination of otherwise different elements to form a coherent whole.
2. Step in dialectic process where the affirmed concepts (the thesis) are countered with opposite affirmed concepts (the antithesis) to yield a final concept (the synthesis) that embraces or reconciles all acceptable concepts of the thesis and antithesis. This is how new (synthesized) knowledge emerges from the old knowledge.
3. Process in which substances combine to form completely new substances or duplicated natural products. In industrial synthesis, hydrocarbon molecules are combined in various combinations to numerous types of plastics and other new compounds.
In natural synthesis, carbon dioxide and water are combined with sun's energy to produce glucose in plants (a process called photosynthesis).

associated issues


related areas

See also




BusinessDictionary, 2019, 'Synthesis', available at, accessed 14 June 2019.

Encyclopedia of Marxism, 1999–2008, 'Synthesis', Glossary of Terms, available at, accessed 12 April 2013, still available 14 June 2019.

MedicineNet, nd, 'Medical Definition of Synthesis', available at, accessed 14 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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