"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grounded Theory

My generative term for this week is “Grounded Theory (GT).”  This term was used in Dr. Muth’s paper “Murals as text” and I was curious about its meaning and whether or not it could be helpful in our 1-2-3 Projects.  A Google search of the Internet resulted in two findings I felt were worth blogging about. The first a briefing on ground theory and the second an article on “The Future of Ground Theory.”

 The briefing was developed by a Dr Lynn Calman (University of Manchester, England), titled “What is Grounded Theory.” http://www.methods.manchester.ac.uk/events/whatis/gt.pdf  The briefing states that GT may be defined as “the discovery of theory from data systematically obtained from social research” (Glaser and Strauss 1967: 2). The briefing goes on to provide the history and development of GT, its features, data collection methods, etc.  Due to due to the requirement in our 1-2-3 Project, Part 3: Discussion Paper, the slides on “Theoretical Sensitivity” caught my attention.  Key extracts from the slides are:
·         Researchers will become theoretically sensitive by immersing themselves in the data and trying to understand what the participants see as being significant and important.
·         Concurrent data collection/analysis allows the researcher to become theoretically sensitive to the data.
·         Finally, Glaser and Strauss (1967) indicate that theoretical sampling is the process of data collection for generating theory whereby the analyst jointly collects, codes, and analyses his (her) data and decides what data to collect next and where to find them, in order to develop theory as it emerges (Glaser and Strauss 1967: 45).

In Part 3: Discussion Paper, we are required to “theorize the findings from and conclusions to your mini study. This theory work should be based on readings and generative themes from the course, and authors should be cited appropriately.”  Sounds like the ground theory method could help fulfill this requirement? 
Last but not least, I also found the article “The Future of Ground Theory” by Barney G. Glaser very insightful.  http://groundedtheoryreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/GT-Review-vol-9-no-21.pdf 

Glaser is one of two sociologist credited with the development of the Ground Theory method.  Published in the “The Grounded Theory Review,” Dr. Glaser elaborates on many aspects of ground theory to include the fact that this methodology typically attracts “experienced practitioners seeking a better understanding of the social patterns that underpin the behaviors they encounter in their work – those high impact access and controllable variables (Glaser & Strauss, pp.245-249) that suggest better ways to mobilize often scarce resources to resolving issues or leveraging opportunities.”  As a practitioner, this statement really resonated with me and I am attracted to GT’s inductive/"bottom up" approach to theory development. 

1 comment:

  1. Bob - once again, thank you for providing us with this invaluable mini lesson in grounded theory! These are excellent resources indeed. The two big things to keep in mind are (1) GT is a method that tries to begin the analysis in a totally bracketed mode--i.e., where we try to hold our prior hunches at bay, and let themes bubble up from the utterances of the participants themselves. (2) GT is one point in the research design involving theory (in this case, seeking new lenses and themes from an area where there is much that is unknown). The other points where theory has an explicit role are in the rationale prefatory parts of the study (what we think we already know) and then at the end, after the grounded findings are presented, we look to tie them back to other themes (such as our a priori generative themes) to see how they might relate/qualify/challenge/advance our understanding of them. Does this make sense?


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