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•is a qualitative research method that uses a
systematical set of procedures to develop an
inductively derived grounded theory about a
phenomenon (Strauss and Corbins, 1998).
-It was first put forward by Glaser
and Strauss in 1967
Goals and Perspectives:
Rather than beginning by researching and
developing a hypothesis, the first steps is data collection,
through a variety of method.
When would you use it?
Focus of the methodology is uncov
ering basic social processes
• Ideal for exploring integral social relationships and the
behaviour of groups where there
has been little exploration of
the contextual factors that affect individual’s lives.(Crooks
‘get though and beyond conjecture and preconception to
exactly the underlying processes of what is going on, so that
professionals can intervene with confidence to help resolve the
participant's main concerns’ (Glaser 1978)
History of GT
• Developed in the School of Nursing, University of California
San Francisco by sociologists Glaser and Strauss – Awareness
• Influenced by Symbolic Interactionism (Blumer 1969: 2)
– Human beings act towards things on the basis of the
meanings that these things have for them
– The meaning of such things is derived from, and arises out
of, the social interaction that one has with one’s fellows
– These meanings are handled in, and modified through, an
interpretive process used by the person in dealing with the
thing he encounters.
• 1960’s move from natural science as the foundation of social
research – new ways of investigating the social world
– Denzin and Lincoln’s – Modernist moment
• Realist ontology
• epistemology–objective truths, generalisable, testable and
• Place of the researched and the researcher
– ‘discovery of theory’
The move in social science towards postmodernism and post-structuralism
has resulted in GT being attacked for its
objectivist and positivist foundations.
In later works Glaser and Strauss, take on the language
associated with interpretivisum - ? change in foundation
Development of GT
There are ‘probably as many versions of grounded theory as
there were grounded theorists’ (Dey 1999: 2)
1980’s division between Glaser and Strauss
•Basics of Qualitative research (Strauss and Corbin 1990)
•Glaser (1992) suggested this did not extend understanding of
grounded theory but had gone on to develop another method
entirely - full conceptual description.
– 1998 (2nd edition) whilst not responding directly to Glaser’s
criticisms, was less prescriptive.
•it is not clear whether these two schools of thought are actually
different, or whether they are just expressing a similar idea in
different ways (Melia 1996)
Stages/Steps in Grounded Theory
1. Data Collection- There are several data collection methods used
in grounded theory
2. Note Taking- making notes about the data collection.
3. Coding (open, axial, selective)- into categories and properties-note
that data are noted and coded almost as soon as they are
4. Memos and theoretical notes- the process of data collection and
of analysis are usually ongoing throughout a grounded theory
5. Memoing-making notes about any theoretical
hypotheses that arise from the coding.
6. Sorting- begins as soon as further data that emerge
from the study add little to the emerging theory
7. Writing- the report of guided by the sorting of data
above ground theory.