Grounded Theory Method

  • Brian D. HaigEmail author
Part of the Studies in Applied Philosophy, Epistemology and Rational Ethics book series (SAPERE, volume 45)


This chapter examines the well-known, and widely used, approach to qualitative research known as grounded theory. In their initial formulation of the methodology, Glaser and Strauss (1967) adopted an empiricist outlook on inquiry, although one leavened more by pragmatism than positivism. This chapter presents an alternative conception of grounded theory method that is consistent with a realist philosophy of science and an abductive conception of scientific method. Among other things, the proposed reconstruction of grounded theory method adopts a problems-oriented conception of research, suggests that theories are grounded in phenomena, not data, argues for an abductive rather than an inductive conception of theory construction, and makes good on the claim that grounded theory method accommodates both qualitative and quantitative methods.


  1. Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory (2nd ed.). London, England: SAGE.Google Scholar
  2. Chatfield, C. (1985). The initial examination of data. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 148, 214–254 (with discussion).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Efron, B., & Tibshirani, R. (1993). An introduction to the bootstrap. New York, NY: Chapman & Hall.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Flynn, J. R. (2009). What is intelligence? Beyond the Flynn effect (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Glaser, B. G. (1964). Organizational scientists: Their professional careers. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.Google Scholar
  7. Glaser, B. G. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.Google Scholar
  8. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine.Google Scholar
  9. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Doubleday Anchor.Google Scholar
  10. Goldman, A. I. (1986). Epistemology and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Haig, B. D. (1987). Scientific problems and the conduct of research. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 19, 22–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haig, B. D. (1996). Grounded theory as scientific method. In A. Neiman (Ed.), Philosophy of education 1995: Current issues (pp. 281–290). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  13. Haig, B. D. (2005). An abductive theory of scientific method. Psychological Methods, 10, 371–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haig, B. D. (2014). Investigating the psychological world: Scientific method in the behavioral sciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harré, R. (1976). The constructive role of models. In L. Collins (Ed.), The use of models in the social sciences (pp. 16–43). London, England: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  16. Harré, R. (1979). Social being. Oxford, England: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Hesse, M. (1966). Models and analogies in science. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kincaid, H. (2000). Global arguments and local realism about the social sciences. Philosophy of Science, 67, 667–678 (Supplement).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lipton, P. (2004). Inference to the best explanation (2nd ed.). London, England: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Mäki, U. (2005). Re-globalizing realism by going local, or (how) should our formulations of scientific realism be informed about the sciences? Erkenntnis, 63, 231–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miller, S. I., & Fredericks, M. (1999). How does grounded theory explain? Qualitative Health Research, 9, 538–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mulaik, S. A. (2010). Foundations of factor analysis (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC.Google Scholar
  23. Nickles, T. (1981). What is a problem that we might solve it? Synthese, 47, 85118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nickles, T. (1987). ‘Twixt method and madness. In N. J. Nersessian (Ed.), The process of science (pp. 41–67). Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Peirce, C.S. (1931–1958). The collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Vols. 1-8 (C. Hartshorne & P. Weiss, Eds, Vols. 1-6; A.W. Burks, Ed., Vols. 7-8). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Reichertz, J. (2007). Abduction: The logic of discovery of grounded theory. In A. Bryant & K. Charmaz (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of grounded theory (pp. 214–228). Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rennie, D. L. (2000). Grounded theory methodology as methodological hermeneutics: Reconciling realism and relativism. Theory and Psychology, 10, 481–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Richardson, R., & Kramer, E. H. (2006). Abduction as the type of inference that characterizes the development of a grounded theory. Qualitative Research, 6, 497–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ross, S. D. (1981). Learning and discovery. New York, NY: Gordon & Breach.Google Scholar
  30. Schatznan, L., & Strauss, A. L. (1973). Field research: Strategies for a natural sociology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  31. Strauss, A. L. (1987). Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Thagard, P. (1988). Computational philosophy of science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  33. Thagard, P. (1992). Conceptual revolutions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Tukey, J. W. (1977). Exploratory data analysis. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  35. Woodward, J. (1989). Data and phenomena. Synthese, 79, 393–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations