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An Overview of Grounded Theory Dr. Simon Hayhoe, London Paper Delivered to Vrije Universiteit, Brussel (Free University, Brussels), Department of Psychology, 1st October 2005 The principles of this lecture To give you an informed overview of Grounded Theory. To introduce you to the context of Grounded Theory. To show you the relevance of Grounded Theory. To show an example of a Grounded Theory. To show references, from which more can be read. How did Grounded Theory begin? Sociologists Glaser and Strauss’ study of dying in a California hospital. Found no real theory to test against this subject. Developed the methodology of Grounded Theory to give them a method of developing a social theory of dying in hospital using only existing data gathering methods. What Grounded Theory became A “loose”, less structured method of developing and testing theory simultaneously than traditional, empirical methodologies. However, had more structure that Clifford Geetz’s thick description A system of testing and retesting theories over a period of years. A system of describing society through abstract notions, rather like a play describes a fictional/documentary occurrence. A creative method of breaking away from highly structured analyses. Core philosophical principles of Grounded Theory Data is data. You can use both qualitative or quantitative! Although this form of analysis is usually associated with qualitative studies. Anti-positivist. Grounded Theory is a strong ally of Popper and Kuhn. It believes that theories are man-made and evolve. A belief that all data and existing theories are equal. Even supporting studies in existing refereed journals have equality with data freshly collected in the field. It argues that researchers are not hierarchical, and all researchers’ experiences are valuable. Why use Grounded Theory? You may be in an area where there is little or no theory in existence. You may not agree with existing theories. You may want to evolve and take ownership of a theory over your lifetime. You may not want to test existing hypothesis. You may want to mix qualitative and quantitative data. You may want to collect a broad range of data beyond more structured methods. Disadvantages of Grounded Theory Felt by some to be wishy-washy. Difficult to gain funding, as each project has no specific beginning or end. A relatively young and developing method. It is not developed to test hypotheses. Inadequate for comparing two theses. Can be inadequate for projects with specific aims, such as evaluations. Forms of data collection Just about anything really! Usually involves qualitative data collection, particularly interviewing. Grounded Theory studies also tend to feature observations. Statistical information is usually regarded as secondary source data. Self reviews and field diaries are also – sometime contentiously – used as data. Forms of coding Open coding. If there is a form of pilot study in the Grounded Theory, this is it. This form identifies concepts and actors. Axial coding. Connecting the concepts and actors. Selective coding. This is re-entry into the field in order to find the stories behind the connections between actors and their concepts. The cycle of analysis Open Coding Axial Coding Selective Coding Treating data like writing an everlasting play Open coding is like choosing the characters and main events in your play. Axial coding is like choosing your plot. Selective coding is like choosing the story lines that put the plots and sub-plots together. Sampling people and phenomena as casting and writing a play Initial data gathering for Open coding involves trying to select a representative sample of subjects and their situations. Axial coding is finding representative subjects and researching their plots in detail. Selective coding involves researching a select sample according to their interactions with other actors and plots to analyse the stories that are being told in the play. Example of a Grounded Theory A study of a Bruxelles research group Open coding of subjects in the group and their roles. Axial coding of their roles and tasks. Selective coding of certain individuals according to their interactions with other subjects and plots. Computer programs designed for the analyses of Grounded Theory NUDIST AtlasTi Useful references Barney Glaser: Doing Grounded Theory Research, The Grounded Theory Perspective, Theoretical Sensitivity. Strauss & Corbin: Strategies of Qualitative Research. Chapters in Lincoln & Denzin’s Qualitative Research and Robson’s Real World Research. Thankyou so much for your time. Finis Et bon chance avec vous recherche!