Soc 3307 f The Grounded Theory Method
Benefits of Using the Grounded Theory Method • Can be used to interpret complex and multifaceted phenomena • Can accommodate a multiplicity of social issues • Is appropriate for socially constructed experiences • Allows for the emergence of novel insights • Not hampered by constraints of a priori knowledge • Good fit with different types of researchers and varied research aims
Benefits (cont. ) • Can result in meaningful emergent concepts and production of substantive theory • Also valuable when available literature does not explain evolving social phenomena • Enables researcher to move beyond preconceived theories of the social world • Although it has its roots in symbolic interactionism, One of the creators, Barney Glaser sees it as “an alternative to positivistic, social constructionist and interpretive qualitative data methods” (Glaser, 2001)
Two Schools of Grounded Theory • Initially developed by two researchers – Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss in 1967 • Early on the two researchers disagreed • Bifurcation of theoretical process: – Glaser’s version vs. Strauss & Corbin’s version • Now two fundamentally different schools of Grounded Theory: – 1) the Glaserian School – 2) the Straussian School
Glaserian vs. Straussian School (adapted from Jones and Alony, 2011)
Glaserian and Straussian (cont. )
Overview of the Process 1. 2. 3. 4. An acknowledgment of the researchers’ bias Selection of a data collection site Data collection process, concurrent with…. Coding and analysis: – Open and axial coding, employing constant comparison and memoing, resulting in themes, subcategories, and core categories – Selective coding, also using constant comparison and memoing, resulting in dense, saturated core categories. – Theoretical coding: core categories are sorted theoretically and cross-referenced with literature. • The result is a basic social process and a theoretical model.
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(Source: Jones and Alony, 2011)
Developing a Codebook • 1. Read through your data and identify themes/classes/categories. • 2. Identify important sub-themes. • 3. Ensure consistency in themes. • 4. Confirm depth of themes. • 5. Assign codes to your themes – For example A 1 for main theme, A 11 and A 12 for sub-themes, etc. – You are now ready to begin coding your data
Grounded Theory Coding • 3 stages of coding in analysis • Coding done throughout data collection – 1. Open coding: Find conceptual categories in the data – 2. Axial coding: Look at relationships between the categories – 3. Selective coding: To account for relationships, find core categories.
Analytic Memo Writing • Start writing memos as soon as you begin coding • Essential aspect of coding process • Made up of reflections and ideas about codes and relationships between codes • Creates the link between raw data or evidence and formal theorizing and hypothesis creation
Guidelines for Open Coding • Open coding is “the process of breaking down, examining, comparing, conceptualizing, and categorizing data” (Strauss and Corbin) • Ask the data a specific and consistent set of questions • Analyze the data minutely – May require multiple passes through the data • Frequently interrupt the coding to write a theoretical note (your analytic memo) • Never assume the analytic relevance of any traditional variable (i. e. demographic)
Axial Coding • • assembling the data in new ways after open coding “intensive coding around one category” The “first coding frame” (Berg, 2009) Grouping the initial categories and exploring the relationships between them • Creates a coding “paradigm” which – – Identifies a central phenomenon Explores causal conditions Identifies the context and intervening conditions Delineates the consequences
Selective Coding • Selective coding involves the integration of the categories found in the axial coding • Straus and Corbin refer to it as “the process of selecting the core category, systematically relating it to other categories, validating those relationships, and filling in categories that need further refinement and development” • This becomes the “grounded theory” • Theoretical sampling takes place to find cases or data to confirm and “ground” theoretical explanation in the data.
According to Glaser, using the grounded theory method requires that you… 1. tolerate confusion • no need to know a priori and don’t need to force the data; 2. tolerate regression • you may get ‘lost’ before finding your way; 3. trust emerging data without worrying about justification • Over time, the data will provide the justification if you adhere to the rigor of the method; 4. have someone to talk to • At times, isolation is needed to get deeply into the data analysis but consultation and discussion also needed (i. e. research meetings); 5. be open to emerging evidence that may change the way you thought about the subject matter, and be ready to act on the new evidence; 6. be able to conceptualize to derive theory from the data; and, 7. be creative • devise new ways of obtaining and handling data by incorporating the approach of others, or by using a tested approach in a different way. Source: Fernández and Lehmann (2005)
Practice Exercise • Carefully watch and make notes on the interview with Elizabeth Gilbert “Your Elusive Creative Genius” • Read the transcript of the interview • Code (all stages) the notes you have made as well as the transcript. Use memoing as you go. • Identify various themes and one emerging core category. • Can you detect a basic social process? Write a paragraph outlining your findings and your thoughts on a tentative theory, grounded in the data at hand. • Be prepared to discuss your ideas with your classmates.