Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grounded (to a halt) Theory

Several posts ago, I gloated about how much I love Grounded Theory after reading Corbin & Strauss (2008).

Since then, I've started to re-read Charmaz's constructivist version of GT. I thought that I could somehow blend Corbin & Strauss (2008) with Charmaz (2006) and have a proposal that would have a happily congruent epistemological thread (thanks to Charmaz) with some hefty methodology (thanks to Corbin & Strauss).

BUT, Barney got in the way. No, not Barney the big purple dinosaur. Barney Glaser, the first author of the first book on GT with Anselm Strauss.

According to the most recent Handbook on GT (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007)--yes, there is actually a handbook on the methodology--there are three main schools of GTM.
  1. The Glaserian school
  2. The Strauss & Corbin school (the Corbin & Strauss 2008 book is the 3rd ed.)
  3. The Constructivist school (i.e. Charmaz)
Well, I happen to have one of the books by Barney Glasser (1992), in which he systematically counters the Strauss & Corbin school. He claims that his is the original GT, and that the Strauss & Corbin version is not GT but "full conceptual description." In other words, the GT that I fell in love with is not legitimate.

As if it wasn't enough for me to have trudged through Corbin & Strauss (version 3 of the Strauss & Corbin school) and Charmaz (the constructivist school), now I have to not only read up on the Glaserian school, but possibly also read up on the original version of the Strauss & Corbin school. For sure, I have to read the original, original version of GT, i.e. Glaser & Strauss (1967).

[Insert expletive here.]

So many people have graduated with their PhDs without the in-depth study that I have been doing in order to legitimately claim that I understand my methodology well (I can say this because I read a good number of dissertations, some from my own department!)

I have two very contrasting thoughts battling within me right now.
  1. A PhD dissertation is a joke, and most dissertations are wimpy.
  2. I am the joke, and I should lighten up and get over my need to know things 100x more than I need to know them.
So, how much more reading do I have to do before I can write the second half of my proposal?

[Insert extra-loud expletive here.]


Scholar Wannabe said...

LD, I don't know if this helps you, but it helped me: this is a PROCESS.

When I was writing my proposal, one of my mentors continually reminded me that the purpose of the proposal wasn't to solve all of the problems, but to prove that I understood the problem and to outline how that problem would be addressed (or solved) in the dissertation itself.

(Now my mentor is reminding me that my dissertation doesn't need to be publishable the day after I defend.)

Can you do simply enough reading to finish the proposal?

I recognize that your school and my school are different, though, so take what you like and leave what you don't.

And be sure not to work on your proposal on Christmas!

Heather said...

I don't agree with either of your two points: dissertations are not jokes, and you are not being fanatical.

I know it is tempting to read read read in the little time you have, but remember, you need to retire to a quiet corner, open your mind, and carefully find a balance between the three theorists.

Sorry you are in this mess :-(

Lonely Dissertator said...

Thank you, both (SW & Heather), for your encouragements. Hope you have a Blessed Christmas.

Career Encourager said...

When I was interviewing for the PhD program, I was waxing eloquent about my research dreams and one of the faculty said something to me that I never forgot.."You need to realize that this is just the start and you will have your whole career to do research. At some point, you just need to do what it takes to get through the program." I've thought about that statement many many times as various people have encouraged me to "scale back" my dissertation focus. So now I feel I have something manageable...but, of course I haven't actually started the proposal since I have been BIG TIME procrastinating in order to enjoy the holidays with family!! ;-)