Hi I am currently struggling and this e-mail is really a plea for some help. I am using constructivist grounded theory but am getting confused over whether this is methodology or a method? I think it is a methodolgical approach and that my methods are interviews etc but where when writing up should I refer to issues such as therectical sampling, constant compartive methods.I believe these are part of the methodogical approach and as such should be in that section. Basically I am and when mentioning this to my boyfriend earlier he just looks at me like I am losing my mind and responded by asking what was for lunch! Thanks in advance for any suggestions


Hi Redridinghod

What interesting questions you have? All the better... ;-), sorry, couldn't resist!!

I am close to submission and I have used GT although not constructivist GT. Your interviews are the methods, ie the tools you used through your methodology in order to try to find a way to elicit data from your participants which will answer your research questions. Theoretical sampling (to me) is not another method per se but rather is part of the methodolgoical process whereby it is part of data collection. Looking to Corbin (2008: 144) it differs from conventional methods of sampling in that it is responsive to the data rather than established before the research begins".

You probably know this but Kathy Charmaz is 'the' modern constructivist grounded theorist. If you don't have Constructing Grounded Theory by her you would be wise to get it. On this forum, it's Olivia who is brill at all things GT and who dug me out of hole a while ago.

Lots on the net as you probably know but have a look at and - GT constructivist PhD thesis available online, each chapter is a separate pdf.

Also it's worth looking at - lots of useful texts there but also a few videos which I tapped into and found very useful.

Good luck - boyfriends, what do they know??:p


There is not much more to add to the good advice and suggestions from Ady!

My own view of the linguistic morass of methodology/method and grounded theory is as follows:

Constructivism is a paradigm. A paradigm has three ( or more) components, but the main ones to consider are epistimology, ontology and methodology. I think when you are struggling with determining the difference between method/methodology, you are intellectually intuitively aware that there is something more than "interviews" (for instance) that make up what you are doing. It would seem to me you are grasping for the language and content of "paradigm" to explain more fully and more satisfactorily what you are doing.

Your "method" is interviews, but the way in which you are analysing them is part of your paradigm of constructivism. Within the paradigm of constructivism, you are using constructivist grounded theory as a method, and as part of that, your data gathering is via interviews. I see interviews as a method of data gathering, not as a method. The method is what you do with the data. Interviews might be used for constructivist GT, for quantitative work in a postivism frame, etc. Interviews are simply a means of getting data. It is what you do with the data, ie, how you analyse it that is your methdology.

Grounded theory analysis is done in a series of coding stages, from open ( initial coding) to arriving at your theory ( derived from your data, thus "grounded" in the data). Theoretical sampling lets you know when you have accounted sufficiently in your theory for possible variations or other alternative scenarios. It helps you assess whether you need to do further development of the theory or testing of the data, or whether you have reached the end point of your analysis. Constant comparative method is simply one step within grounded theory ( though there is much debate over whether it is used in all grounded theory--off the top of my head Charmaz does not use this, but Glasser-Strauss-Corbin do in varying degrees. Whether or not you use it as part of your grounded theory analysis is up to you but you should perhaps be prepared to explain and justify your use/non use of it within your GT analysis).

As Ady suggested, read Kathy Charmaz. She explains the use of constructivist GT, as well as the other "schools" of GT.

I can only add, be sure you understand the phases of coding and theory testing before you embark on your testing of data, keep a careful paper trail or track of your testing of data and code development, and as Charmaz says, have fun! Enjoy the research! Hope that this helps.