Grounded Theory | What is Grounded theory Research Approach? -->

Grounded Theory | What is Grounded theory Research Approach?

Grounded Theory


Meaning of Grounded Theory (GT)

Grounded Theory (GT) is the Development/Construction of a unified theoretical explanation for a process or action (phenomenon). The participants in the study would have experienced the process or action. The sole purpose of Grounded Theory is to develop the theory and not to worry about the implications or testing the validity of the theory.

The Theory will develop from the collected data from the participants who have experienced the process.

History of Grounded Theory (GT)

  • B.G. Glaser and A.L. Strauss (1967). Worked on awareness of dying (1965) AND developed the book “Discovery of Grounded Theory” (1967).
  • B.G. Glaser beliefs on standard hypothetical deductive (Glaser version of Grounded Theory is more structural and systematic in the line of positivist)
  • A.L. Strauss beliefs on symbolic interactionist (Straus version of Grounded Theory is more contextuality)
  • They argued that meaning derives from social interaction and developing theory from the data collected in the context.
  • Juliett Corbin and A.L. Strauss provided a structured approach to Grounded Theory (GT)
  • Kathy Charmaz (2006) offers a constructivist and interpretive perspective on grounded theory.

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Characteristics/ Defining Features of Grounded Theory (GT)

  1. Process
  2. Line by Line Coding of Data
  3. Indexing
  4. Memo Writing
  5. Constant Comparative Analysis
  6. Theoretical Sampling
  7. Saturation
  8. Relevant Literature
  9. Interview
  10. The Data Collection Process in GT ( Grounded Theory) is Zigzag 

1. Process: Focus on the process or action of something. Ex-developing inclusive education system or process of developing curriculum

2. Line by line coding of data: Coding is an activity in which the researcher a label/phrase applied to a segment of data that condenses, summaries, and potentially provide some analytic handle on the data. Open coding-selective coding (core phenomenon/categories) leads to -axial coding (themes under selective coding)) which based on data derived coding/Vivo coding or researcher derived coding

3. Indexing: It refers to the way Grounded Theory records concepts derived through coding. The aim of indexing is to include all relevant coded material so as to demonstrate fully the diversity of the concepts captured by the code.

4. Memo writing: It is a process of recording analytical insights that provide more depth and complexity than codes. The memo-writing starts as soon as the researcher has any analytic ideas which need to be pursued in between the collection of data and analysis of data.

5. Constant comparative analysis: It is the process of taking information from the data collected and comparing it to the emerging categories is called constant comparative method analysis.

6. Theoretical sampling: The sampling process becomes an iterative process where burgeoning data analysis and theory development shapes the selection of subsequent participants to elaborate on the developing theory.

7. Saturation: It is the complete data collection process as well as coding.

8. Relevant literature: No prior review of relevant literature in order to avoid preconceptions of ideas.

9. Interview: The primary form of data obtained through interviews. The other documents and secondary sources data like textual letter produced by the participants etc…

10. The data collection process: The Data Collection Process in Grounded Theory is zigzag or haphazard-back and forth throughout the Grounded Theory (GT) development process.


Types of Grounded Theory (GT)

  • Systematic Procedure (single process/core categories) of Strauss and Corbin (1998)
  • Social Constructivist Approach (emphasizes diversity) of Charmaz (2006)

Procedures or Steps of Grounded Theory (GT)


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Decide whether the study best suit to Grounded Theory (GT) approach *(when the satisfactory theory is not available-Rationale)

The focus of the research questions: How individuals experience the process and identify the steps in the process. (what was the process? And How did it unfold?) Ex. Curriculum development process. After the initial exploration of the issue, the researcher then asks more detailed questions that help axial coding as what was central to the process? What influenced the phenomenon to occur? What strategies employed? What effect occurred?

Conducting Interview to collect the data: (other sources but hardly used)

Data analysis as well as theory development:

Open Coding: (Categories of information about the phenomenon) (within each category finds many subcategories and dimensionwise)

Axial Coding: Identify central phenomenon-explores causal conditions (identifies factors that influence the phenomenon) –explores the specific strategies (actions or interactions resulted from the central phenomenon)-identifies context and intervening conditions (narrow and broad conditions that influence the strategies), delineates the consequences (outcomes of the strategies) for this phenomenon.

Selective Coding: Prepare the storylines that connect the categories

Challenges of Grounded Theory (GT):

  • Researcher need to set aside as much as possible
  • Very difficult to decide when categories are saturated or when theory is sufficiently detailed.
  • Reliability of data depends on discriminant sampling-collects data other than participants initially interviewed for the data
  • No flexibility: the syntax of the Model is –Central phenomenon. These steps are prescribed for the researcher. There is no flexibility as desired by some qualitative researchers.
    • Causal Conditions
    • Strategies conditions
    • Consequences
  • Time taking

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