16     Grounded theory (1)


Speaking only for myself ...


These days, "grounded theory" is usually taken to mean the approach of that name initiated by Glaser and Strauss.  Or, more often, the later elaborations of Strauss and Corbin.

There is a sense, however, in which you might talk about theory grounded in data or experience.  I think "grounded theory" is an appropriate term for that, too.  It is in this more generic sense that I wish to talk about grounded theory here.

Action research is well placed to develop this form of grounded theory.

In my view, an important purpose of action research is the development of understanding and action.  Understanding which derives from action.  Understanding which in turn informs action.  Within each "intend -> act -> review" cycle the understanding develops further.  In each "act" the growing understanding is tested in action.

In this form, theory development observes well the intention of the earlier Glaser and Strauss work.  Theory is developed progressively as the data are collected.  It has local relevance and is practical.


Glaser, Barney G.  and Strauss, Anselm L.  (1967) The discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research.  Chicago.: Aldine.

Strauss, Anselm, and Corbin, Juliet (1990) Basics of qualitative research: grounded theory procedures and techniques.  Newbury Park: Sage.





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