How do I begin?
I was walking around surveying the dimensions of a large castle. I stepped inside the main entrance, looked around the large entryway, the inner garden, walked through the hallways and decided to go into one of the rooms. I opened the door, stuck my head to look inside, and suddenly, I found myself in the entrance to yet another giant mansion.
This was what happened to me.
Two weeks ago, I started to read Barney Glaser (1992), and realized that I could not ignore his ranting against Strauss & Corbin (1990, 1st ed.). As much as I enjoyed Corbin & Strauss (2008, 3rd ed.), if I were to be a true scholar, I had to take Glaser's words more seriously. After all, he was the first author of the first book on Grounded Theory, "The Discovery of Grounded Theory" (Glaser & Strauss, 1967)--a book which I had not read because when I tried to do so, I could not understand it, and I thought that a latter edition (i.e. Corbin & Strauss, 2008) would be more "up to date."
How wrong I was.
Almost everyone I have talked to (and some dissertations I have read) that have used grounded theory has treated it as a one possible methodology in qualitative research. In fact, some qualitative textbooks also seem to treat it that way. Yet, given everything that I have read so far in Grounded Theory (works using GT, as well as method books on GT), I am coming to realize that GT is not just a method for doing qualitative research, it is a methodology for generating theory using qualitative or quantitative data.
I repeat: Grounded Theory is not just one of several qualitative methods, it is a methodology for a very specific purpose: to generate theory! Thus, it is called Grounded Theory.
Those Creswell texts that put GT as one method amongst others are not correct, especially if we are to properly understand the purpose for which GT was originally conceived (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). GT is for generating theory, therefore, it should not be placed alongside phenomenology or case study methods. Doing so is misleading.
No wonder Barney Glaser sounded like a raving madman in "Emergence vs. Forcing" (1992): he was yelling "wrong, wrong, wrong!" (to Strauss & Corbin who were turning the method into conceptual description, and thus, one of the many variants of qualitative methods).
I get it, Barney. Thanks for hollering.
I've read Corbin & Strauss (2008), "Awareness of Dying" (Glaser & Strauss, 1964) and I've ordered Glaser's "Theoretical Sensitivity" (1978) through interlibrary loan. Yes, interlibrary loan! This is a very important book in the corpus of GT texts, and my university doesn't own a copy of it. Go figure!
Right now, I'm reading the original first edition of GT, "Discovery" (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Mind you, the entire title of that book is "The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research." No wonder people are misled. But now that I've read enough on GT to be able to understanding "Discovery" (1967), I see that Glaser's (1992) ranting was justified. He and Strauss had already made all those claims in 1967, and Strauss (with co-author Corbin) went and discarded some very important basic premises in 1990.
I'm still social constructivist. That has not changed. However, given that Kathy Charmaz (the "originator" of Constructivist GT) was trained by both Strauss and Glaser, I should read her version before I finally finish off my proposal.
Glaser is still alive. He holds seminars for dissertators. I am considering going. All the way to Mill Valley, CA. Did I mention that I am kind of intense that way?
Here's the good news: I still LOVE grounded theory! In fact, I love it even more now. I dig theorizing. I really do.
9 months ago