Grounded Theory

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August 8, 2018

Critical Commentary

Grounded theory arose from Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss' collaborative work studying death and dying, published in Awareness of Dying (1965).

There are many variants of grounded theory, yet all include:

  • Simultaneous data collection and analysis

  • Analytic codes and categories developed from data, not preconceived hypotheses

  • Theory development during each step of data collection and analysis

  • Memo-making (an intermediate step between coding and writing drafts)

  • Theoretical sampling aimed for theory construction (not intended for representativeness)

  • A literature review conducted after developing an independent analysis 

Grounded theory prevents the researcher from:

  • becoming a passive observer in the field

  • “Going native”

  • Stints of unfocused, lengthy fieldwork

  • Superficial data collection

  • Reliance on disciplinary stock categories

Charmaz, K. and Richard G. Mitchell, 2001. “Grounded theory in ethnography.” In Atkinson, et al., Handbook of Ethnography. Sage. Pp. 160-174.

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Photo taken by Hined Rafeh and Alli Morgan

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, NY
12180
United States