Grounded Theory

Embed Size (px)


the history of grounded theory and the different types of gorunded to conduct research using the grounded theory approach

Text of Grounded Theory

IntroductionA qualitative approach to research stipulates the purpose of the qualitative research, the role of the researcher(s), the stages of research, and the method of data analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Grounded Theory is a qualitative approach to research which refers to theory that is inductively developed from a mass of data (Glaser, 1998). This approach results in a theory that fits a dataset more precisely hence the term grounded (Glaser, 1998). Grounded theory is an iterative process as it is dynamic in nature. As defined by Strauss and Corbin (1990), "The grounded theory approach is a qualitative research method that uses a systematic set of procedures to develop an inductively derived grounded theory about a phenomenon". The objective of Grounded Theory is to then generate theory that accounts for the patterns of behaviour which is relevant and problematic for those involved (Glaser, 1978, p. 93). The following discussion will outline the historical background of Grounded Theory, highlighting how and why this approach came about. Furthermore, Grounded Theory as a research method will be explained with a practical application of a social constructionist approach of grounded theory analysis in exploring a section of Lama Yeshes Wisdom Archive (1998). Here the research question and aims, as well as the techniques that we utilised in our analysis will be illustrated. Lastly, a brief personal reflection on the research process is included, whereby the experience of conducting grounded theory research, its advantages and limitations and personal reflection as researchers are all discussed.

Part 1Historical background of Grounded Theory: Grounded Theory has grown in importance and popularity since the work of sociologists Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (1967). Glaser and Strauss originate from different backgrounds and their collaboration demonstrates how those fundamental traditions within sociology overlap. Traditionally sociology made use of ethnographic fieldwork, interviews and case studies, however by the 1960s this tradition began to fall away as quantitative methods became predominant (Charmaz, 2001). These methods, engrained in positivism, held beliefs based on scientific logic whereby objectivity and truth are justified via quantifiable variables rather than the qualities of human experience (Charmaz, 2001). These quantitative methods were based on the assumption of an objective observer who remained passive; therefore it assumes that the external world is separate from the researcherPage 1 of 14

and his/her methods that are employed to obtain knowledge of concerning this world (Glaser, 1998). During this period, quantitative methodologists disregarded anything that did not fit into the positivist research design and only acknowledged qualitative methods when claiming to refine quantitative tools (Charmaz, 2006). Theory began to inform research through the logico-deductive model, whereby hypotheses are deduced from existing theory and then tested (Charmaz, 2006). Glaser and Strauss noted that this type of research rarely produced new theory. Glaser and Strauss then set out to challenge the division of theory and research, the predominance of quantitative methods that were said to be more rigorous as qualitative methods, the belief that qualitative methods were unsystematic, the separation of the data collection phase and analysis phase within research, and those assumptions that qualitative research cannot generate any theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Strauss originated from a more qualitative background where he was trained in symbolic interaction at the University of Chicago. Here Strauss was influenced by the pragmatist traditions (Charmaz, 2001; Glaser, 1998). Glaser then originated from a more quantitative background as he was trained in quantitative methods at Columbia University by Paul Lazarsfeld (Glaser, 1998). Glaser received further training in theory construction, particularly in theoretical coding and in explication of text (Glaser, 1998). During the 1960s Glaser and Strauss collaborated to develop the constant comparative method, what is now known as Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The purpose of this theory was to generate theory that more systematically by using coding and analytical procedures (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). Grounded Theory can therefore be noted to contain both positivistic and interpretive elements, therefore allowing researchers to use both positivistic and interpretivist methods. A while after their collaboration, Glaser and Strauss went their separate ways and continued to develop the method of Grounded Theory independently of one another. This then led to the development of Glaserian and Straussian versions of Grounded Theory. The publication of Basics of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques by Strauss and Corbin (1990) and The Grounded Theory Perspective: Conceptualization Contrasted with Description by Glaser (2001) marked the emergence of Glaserian and Straussian version of Grounded Theory. Those accounts of Grounded Theory by Glaser and Strauss are classified as discovery accounts as they involve the discovery of theory from data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967, p.1). This account of Grounded Theory suggests that theory is merely uncovered as it is already there. Kathy Charmaz then introduced a social constructionistPage 2 of 14

account of Grounded Theory, whereby it is believed that theory does not simply emerge from the data, but instead theory is constructed via the interaction between the researcher and the data (Charmaz, 2001). With regards to the above, it can be noted that there is no single version of Grounded Theory, however for the purpose of this particular assignment the version provided by Charmaz will be utilized.

Part 2About Buddhism: The word Buddhism is derived from the word budhi, which means to awaken. Buddhism can be characterized as a philosophy and a way of life; and not a religion as it has been notoriously confused as being (Watts, 1999). This philosophy follows that one should lead a moral life, should be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions as well as develop wisdom and understanding (White, 1993). A lama is an honorific and respectful title given to a monk or teacher of Buddhism. Its direct translation is from the Tibetan language meaning None Above. It is often commonly mistaken to only apply to Tibetan monks but it may refer to any teachers who are recognized spiritual masters who exemplify Buddhist teachings (Marcello, 2003). The Buddhist teachings under investigation in this grounded theory analysis were written by Lama Thubten Yeshe (1998). He was born in 1935 in Tibet before passing away at the age of 49 in 1984. He initially started his education at Sera Monastic University in Lhasa, Tibet, but fled because of Chinese occupation and continued his studies and practice in Tibetan refugee camps in India (Carus, 2005). With his chief disciple, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe began teaching Westerners Buddhism at their Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal (Carus, 2005). However in 1974, some of their international students invited them to travel the world to spread their teachings of the Dharma. The Dharma is the Buddhists beliefs about the universal law of nature, the teachings of Buddhism (Carus, 2005). In 1975 the two Lamass established the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, and the foundation is still flourishing today. The organization is dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist values and traditions. The foundation operates worldwide in more than 30 different countries and makes use of community service, teaching and meditation (FPMT, 2011). The foundation is inspired by an attitude of universal responsibility to transform peoples hearts and minds into theirPage 3 of 14

highest potential. The foundation does this by means of integrative education. The Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, of which the extract we have studied is a part of, is one of the mediums of the integrative education experience that the foundation offers (Lama Yeshe Archive, 2011). The exact text we have studied is a chapter entitled Finding Ourselves Through Buddhism from the book Becoming Your Own Therapist published as part of the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive (1998). It may be said that the book deals with the notion that Buddhism has therapeutic aspects and that everyone may find happiness if they adopted more of the Buddhist principles of being more self-aware of ones self and others. This statement is indicative when one looks at the much published quote of Lama Yeshe: Without understanding how your inner nature evolves, how can you possibly discover eternal happiness? Where is eternal happiness? It's not in the sky or in the jungle; you won't find it in the air or under the ground. Everlasting happiness is within you, within your psyche, your consciousness, your mind. That's why it's important that you investigate the nature of your own mind.(Taylor, 2010 : p. 162)

Research question and aims: Grounded Theory researchers are in need of a research question before their investigation can commence. This is merely an initial question so as to focus the researchers attention onto a particular phenomenon. This question serves to identify the phenomena of interest, however it should not make assumptions about that phenomena (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Our research question, which is informed from the extract is: Using a social constructionist approach to grounded theory analysis to explore Lama Yeshes perceptions of the therapeutic aspects of Buddhism. Further research aims that we have used to guide our research include: 1. How has the types of discourse used influenced perceptions of Buddhism? 2. How is the nature of the mind linked to perceptions of Buddhism?

Page 4 of 14

Part 3The basis of gro