Glaser, B. G. 2004. “Naturalist Inquiry and Grounded Theory.”

Glaser, Barney G. 2004. “Naturalist Inquiry and Grounded Theory.” Qualitative Social Research 5 (1):

QDA (qualitative data analysis) has been taken on in light of Lincoln and Guba’s 1985 book, Naturalist Inquiry, which presents blocks to grounded theory. Grounded theory is not just another method of qualitative data analysis.

Naturalist inquiry deals with issues of truth within a worldview, “a systematic set of beliefs, together with their accompanying methods, a paradigm” (Lincoln and Guba 1985). Grounded theory, thus, elicits a new paradigm for inquiry; theories, then, become adaptable for contradicting evidence, L&G say – however, Glaser notes that grounded theory “compares all facts to conceptualize a place in the emerging theory” (1-2). Grounded theory, according to Glaser, works to examine concepts and explanations, not facts asserted. “Grounded theory is inducted from systematically collected facts, which in the process for generating grounded theory from data, constantly verifies its fit, relevance, and workability, and adjusts (modifies the concepts and their relationships) the theory to the facts to achieve fit, relevance, and workability” (2).  L&G’s prescriptions and ‘axioms’ for QDA are not naturalistic, and do not abide by grounded theory.  “GT [grounded theory] uses all as data, quantitative and qualitative, and often differential meanings and values biases are of no relevance, and if so they are just more data.  It depends on what data is used in what combination and what emerges. Thus, GT should not be remodeled into thinking that humans are instruments, differential meanings and value biases ARE ALWAYS [author’s emphasis] an issue.  Let us see first, and not force these issues” (4). Relevant concepts are not forced for review, and are not strongly hierarchical. Grounded theory is more about conceptualization, rather than description. Constructionism is not immediately grounded theory, and vice versa. Pure grounded theory base on “emergent theoretical saturation, constant delimiting, selective coding, theoretical sampling, core variable analysis, analytic rules, and theoretical completeness” (6) – more about generating boundaries and categories, rather than describing boundaries. Naturalist inquiry as having taken-for-granted assumptions that root in positivism, and description rather than analysis, creating problems, as no description can ever really be value-free.  It becomes difficult to fit grounded theory into existing ones.NI is too controlling, and works to fit into positivistic inquiry and boundaries.  “GT is not for excessive techniques for establishing accuracy of findings, it is not for replicable description.  It is simply for conceptual theory induction and constant modification. It does not require the prolonged fieldwork and culture soaking of QDA methods for description and especially the lengthy rigorous techniques of assuring credibility offered in NI” (15).

(kx^ so, the way Glaser writes this, we’re talking about incredible looseness in methodology.  How do we appropriately employ GT with institutional constraints  -like IRB and our advisors – not being able to have a set sample, some degree of theoretical lens to observe through? How, then, do we develop points of credibility, trustworthiness, accuracy in our data? Also, burns to Lincoln and Guba.  Ouch, bro.)


Lincoln, Yvonna & Guba, Egon 1985. Naturalistic Inquiry: London: Sage


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