Navigating Grounded Theory:A critical and reflective response to the challenges of using grounded theory in an education PhD

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    Abstract

    This paper offers a critical reflection upon the use of a grounded theory approach within a doctoral study. As well as providing an outline of grounded theory, it begins by noting the existence of some powerful critiques of a grounded theory approach, in particular around the key concepts of ‘theory’, ‘discovery’ and ‘ground’. It is argued that, in some cases, grounded theory struggles to counter these challenges, especially in its ‘purist’ forms. However, with reference to research carried out as part of a PhD study of sharing education in Northern Ireland which employed a grounded theory approach, a case is made for an open and critical grounded theory based upon three principles: pragmatism; research as practice; and reflexivity. It is concluded that a reasonable case can be made for grounded theory where: grounded theory researchers maintain a balance between belonging to and critique of the grounded theory community; where there is an emphasis upon theorizing rather than the discovery of theory; and where the strengths of grounded theory as 'practice' and 'craft' are maximised.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages18-24
    Number of pages7
    Volume4
    Specialist publicationCritical and Reflective Practice in Education
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Keywords

    • grounded theory; qualitative; research methods

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