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The Grounded Theory Review
Here are some excerpts from two of Dr. Glaser's recent books:
Getting Out of the Data: Grounded Theory Conceptualization
By Barney G. Glaser, PhD, Hon PhD
It is simple enough to get out of the data to the emergence of conceptualization if the researcher uses the GT procedures set out in detail in many of my books. That is, trust in emergence by starting to constantly comparatively analyze data the first night after field notes are collected, Look for interchangeable indicators in the data as it is collected, as it is gathered, while using the constant comparative method. Once the pattern, latent in the data, is found, and indicators are saturated, name the pattern and conceptualization begins. Soon more patterns emerge and memos start relating them and a multivariate GT starts emerging around a core category. The research has gotten out and off the descriptive level of gathered data to conceptualization. GT is about concepts, not description. This short synopsis may be extended by reading my many other books and the published papers of several of my mature students.. It works very well , if the procedures are followed, however flexibly. The researcher uses the constant comparative method (cc method) to discover codes resulting in a product:, that is a substantive theory.
But there apparently seems to be a general problem cited in the literature. That is many, particularly novice researchers cannot get out the data, cannot get off the descriptive level. They get confused. It is hard to know if they trust in emergence. It is easy to infer that the GT procedures are not followed, whether trusted or not, to get out of the initial confusion quickly. This book will help researchers get to the conceptual level. This book will deal at length with the problems that occur in tempting GT research that block, side step, prevent or derogate the efficient use of the GT procedures that get the researcher out of the data and off the descriptive level to conceptualization. It will help handle and avoid the many blocks to conceptualization
In fact, the GT conceptual level seems to be avoided or ignored by those who use and foster the multiple version jargonizing approach to GT, which essentially remodels GT down to the QDA descriptive level. They, the authors, typically say that they are doing a GT, but in fact they just give straight description or some conceptual description. Given the voluminous spread of GT, especially based on the jargonized multiple version view of GT ( see Jargonizing book, Sociology Press 2009), the problem has increased substantially of blocking conceptual coding. This book will be a GT of GT use, as is my usual style.
First I will write about the sources of help in getting out of the data. Then I will turn in the final chapter to the many sources of blocks on getting out of the data. The goal of this book is obvious----getting out of data and off the descriptive level, to emergently reach the conceptual level and thereby generating conceptual hypotheses to form a multivariate conceptual substantive theory. It appears as I review many writings about GT and GT papers that the blocks to good coding far outnumber the helps. Hopefully this book will change this proportion.
The reader should keep in mind I use the words code, concept, property and category as synonymous. They all refer to conceptualizing an emergent pattern. The reader need only constantly code and compare looking for interchangeable indicators that emerge a pattern. This is a simple procedure which is, unfortunately, blocked more than helped by all writings that refer to coding especially those writings on QDA that jargonize GT wrongly. So, I have written much about coding in my books. This book will deal with many authors references to coding which block it and help it. There is so much writings among a myriad of authors about coding with very little or no reference to the constant comparative method of GT coding( cc method). This book will show how the frequent coding “chat” pattern blocks the simple, direct use of the cc method. Thus again, I am trying to transcend the literature on coding to bring the cc method into more use for getting to a conceptual level by using what I and others have written. I will give many quotes – non referenced-- in a myriad of literature and emails that needs to be both corrected and needs to be applauded as we explore blocks and helps in coding.. I will tap a lot of these expressions but it hardly will tap the volumne of then. I am exampling. As Phyllis Stern said to me in an email (11/09) “Getting out of the data, that is the stumbling bock to doing GT, isn’t it”
To aid the reader’s grasp on the cc method I have copied at the end of this book my original paper on the constant comparative method first published in Social Problems, 1965, two years before the Discovery of GT was published where it is republished. I and my GT colleagues have had 43 years of experience in using the cc method. To underscore this experience I have reprinted Judith Holton’s current paper “The Coding Process and Its Challenges” (the GT Review, 2010, vol 9), no 1)
This book is on substantive coding, that is conceptualizing the substantive data. Please do not get it confused with theoretical coding, which codes are theoretical models that help the written grounded theory by structuring it theoretically like a typology or a process. Theoretical codes emerge when sorting memos. They like substantive codes must earn their way into the data. See my book on Theoretical Coding (Sociology Press, 2007) This book also tends to focus on the dissertation researcher both explicitly and implicitly since doing a dissertation taps the most interest ,energy, value and fatefulness in doing GT
Jargonizing: The use of the grounded
theory vocabulary Chapter 1
Barney G. Glaser, Ph.D., Hon. Ph.D.
[The Grounded Theory Review (2009), vol.8, no.1]
When in doubt, jargonize.
When you wish to belong, network, be collegial or be ‘a part of’, jargonize.
When you want to sound knowledgeable, jargonize.
When you wish to sound experienced, jargonize.
Jargonizing is normal. All people, all human kind, jargonize in their lives to some degree or other. We use the vocabulary (jargon) of the area in which we act and talk. Jargon is a vocabulary of action by which to talk about what is going on. Most fields have their jargon. Few do not. Jargonizing cannot be stopped. It is needed. It can be very meaningful, properly so, for a field. In this book, however, I am writing about jargoning as just words with little or no real meaning, but sounding good and knowledgeable when talking about an area that one knows little or nothing about. In this way, jargonizing continually regenerates the GT (grounded theory) vocabulary wrongly as it is being applied to QDA (qualitative data analysis) concerns. Grounded theory is the buzzword in academic circles doing QDA research. Even though jargonizing cannot be stopped, it can be explained and seen for what it is and its consequences in eroding and remodeling GT as originated. I hope to mute the remodeling of GT to a significant degree. Paradoxically, jargonizing continually sells GT to the unknowing with the consequence they are buying into QDA as if it was classical GT. The resulting favorable attitude toward GT is therefore not really GT, but QDA. In this book, I shall deal with the jargonizing of qualitative data analysis (QDA) with the powerful grab of GT vocabulary in which jargonizing has lost the GT meanings behind the vocabulary. For most of the jargonizers, the true GT meanings of
[1 This paper is Chapter 1 of Dr. Glaser’s forthcoming book, Jargoning: The use of the grounded theory vocabulary (Sociology Press, 2009)]
its vocabulary were probably never there to begin with. For an extreme jargonizing example, see The Sage Handbook (p.510)2: “Grounded theory has proven useful in orienting and sensitizing several generations of ethnographers.” Jargonizing seems to hide from the jargonizer as well as the listener, the fact that very often they simply do not know what they are talking about; especially when it is accompanied by a high degree of (unjustifiable) certainty. Furthermore, GT jargonizing is very much needed by QDA methodologists, as they have no vocabulary by which to talk about their methodology, I, Barney Glaser, have become known for a QDA methodology view that I did not discover or generate. How paradoxical. The vocabulary contribution of classical GT clearly goes far beyond the contributions of method and of its substantive products. Does jargonizing change GT as it remodels it? Absolutely No. It just remodels it for the people who jargonize QDA and do not know any better. The classical GT method may appear lost when talking about - jargonizing - QDA, but the classical GT method remains virtually the same and unchanged for its 40 years of existence. The remodeling of GT is actually a different, QDA method. Olavur Christiansen wants to stop the jargonizing but its grab will not let it happen, especially when it fills a vacuum (Christensen, 2007). Dropping original GT by QDA remodeling does not drop the classical method. Jargonizers do not realize this. Whoever might believe the jargonizing QDA as the “now” GT, does not know classical GT. Furthermore, jargonizing itself is accused as a jargon of “methodological rhetoric” (Hdbk, p.205). Jargonizing knows no bounds and turns on itself by self assuring and self confirming. Not knowing GT doesn’t seem to prevent jargoning. Rather, it seems that mastering GT jargon substitutes for mastering the method. Jargonizing commands respect, however wrong the meanings attributed to the tenants of classical GT. If one can sound knowledgeable by jargonizing without real knowledge or experience, it would seem one can skip doing the scholarship and experience necessary in learning the classic GT method. Studying
[2 This citation and others (cited as Hdbk) throughout my book refer to Bryant & Charmaz (2007). The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory. London: Sage Publications. ]
the classical GT books is assumed. And of course, without being grounded in the experience and scholarship of classical GT, the jargon loses its relevance and drifts by association into QDA. If one doesn’t use the classical GT method in a research project; if one doesn’t continually read and develop his/her scholarship; a clear understanding of classical GT is not developed. Hence, it becomes much easier to drift out of the classical GT methodology and, as a result, not recognize the remodeling and erosion of classical GT into seemingly erudite, yet completely ungrounded papers and books on GT as if it was a QDA method. One has to be doing classical GT to use the GT jargon correctly. Starting out in a research, the jargon can feel awkward. It takes time and research experience to really understand the meanings behind the GT jargon and leave behind the superficial notions of the concepts captured by the GT jargon. It takes time to develop the level of expertise – and associated comfort – with GT jargon so that one can explain to another the true meanings of its concepts. As Judith Holton said to me in an Email (4/08): “I got the concept of interchangeability of indicators intuitively, but it took me much longer with research experience and more reading before I could explain it to others with confidence and clarity.” It is no wonder that jargonizing GT to QDA in the Handbook runs far ahead of its true meaning, since research experience using classical GT and studying such research writings barely occurs, if at all, among all but a very few of the Handbook authors. The Handbook shows clearly that the GT vocabulary is a very, very powerful way of conceptualizing QDA with its categories every which way. GT jargonizing shows that it is the GT vocabulary that is a major contribution of GT and perhaps the main contribution. Some QDA researchers jargonize with some knowledge of GT and slightly remodel GT. Others are just not aware enough of classical GT procedures and mouth the jargoning as what they doing in their research and writing. But the most outrageous use is to wax on with jargonizing acting like an expert, when they really have no notion of classical GT methodology procedures. Thus starts the GT jargonizing of QDA everywhere and every which way when QDA procedures are discussed.
Bryant and Charmaz make assertions that seem to suggest a lack of currency in their own scholarship of classic GT. One is
that, “Glaser has recently changed his stance on the GT quest to discover a single basic social process (Hdbk, p.9)”. They ignore my clear insistence in Theoretical Sensitivity (1978, p.96) that the BSP is but one type of theoretical code that may apply. Furthermore, they suggest (Hdbk, p.19) that I have distanced myself from theoretical codes, which seems absurd given my book, The Grounded Theory Perspective III: Theoretical Coding (2005). These two assertions seem to suggest jargonizing remodeling of classical GT erodes its power and undermines further scholarship to correct it, as evidenced by the predominance of remodeling among the Handbook contributions. Barely 5% of the Handbook authors really use the GT vocabulary to talk about the experiential ‘nitty gritty’ of classical GT procedures. The rest just “chat up” QDA research every which way with GT jargonizing, as if talking GT which they really are not. They join the “sound legitimately knowledgeable” network as they remodel classic GT down to QDA. The GT vocabulary is needed by QDA researchers since QDA has little or no vocabulary of its own, especially none with “grab”. It fills a vacuum in QDA. It makes QDA sound sensible and then gives a sense of voiced mastery control. Classical GT vocabulary’s true meaning is negligible. Jargonizing results in massive remodeling of GT to fit and be seen as any number of QDA methodologies. GT virtually becomes a QDA method. The remodelers have no experiential or procedural knowledge in classical GT research by which to correct themselves. They do not know they are doing QDA, while thinking it is GT, as they jargonize their research. They chat it up in their network to appear knowledgeable about GT and are none the wiser yet appear to understand what they do not. A knowledgeable GT researcher spots them immediately. Since jargonizing GT is not correct in the first place, it easily leads to twisted, incomprehensible QDA methodologizing which then becomes the jargonizers’ world view and frame of reference, filled with identity, which brooks no threat from negative evaluations. It helps jargonizers in getting published, joining a department and participating in a collegial network all of which empowers them from knowing or admitting its truer, neglected meanings. If someone is knowledgeable in GT, hence the falsity of jargonizing, they can easily be forced to jargonize anyway by these participations. Jargonizing QDA with GT concepts has
been going on for so long now that it has an unquestioned historical legitimacy. It seems to have solved the credibility envy for QDA which is required to get QDA accepted in leading journals which cater to quantitative research with its sure-fire jargon. That GT is a direct, simple inductive method to generate conceptual theory from research data is lost forever in the jargonizing verbiage wrestles over QDA issues. The lack of experiential knowledge leads to a superficiality of jargonizing which has many general implications for GT; some of which I will turn to in this book.
Keep in mind that in many fields, jargoning is necessary and totally meaningful. It is just in the use of GT vocabulary for QDA that the meaning of its words for GT have been mostly or totally lost, which meanings have been exchanged for and by QDA issues and problems. Jargonizing has legitimated the switching of classical GT to it becoming and to being a social construction data method, without giving one example of a “good” GT study based on social construction. Real understanding of GT as conceptual not descriptive is lost. GT procedures as originated are slighted, dismissed or changed to suit QDA problems. Twenty-four of the Handbook authors indicate clearly they do not have classical GT research experience, which would generate clear, accurate meanings for the GT vocabulary. They also indicate they do not “read” substantive grounded theory papers or articles that use classical GT. I can tell since they do not buy my GT readers to see how conceptual substantive GT’s are done. Not one article in the book analyzes a classical, substantive GT theory as an example. How else could they know what good substantive GT’s look like, since such publications are few and far between in journals. Apart from Judith Holton’s paper on coding (Hdbk, pp.265-289), the few example bits in chapters are QDA. There is not one critique of a classical, conceptual, substantive GT. So these authors not only have no classical GT research experience, but no product proof for scholarly study.
Apart from Holton’s paper, not one author talks of the exciting experience of doing classical GT. The Eureka syndrome
is never mentioned, nor the joy of discovery through emergence, or the intense motivations linked with each GT procedure. They do not mention the afforded autonomy given by doing GT and how it leads to originality. These misses are very apparent to
those who practice classical GT. The Handbook with its constant, incessant jargoning levels off these powers of GT and the GT experience to average or below routine QDA. The leveling denies the realization moments with their flushing out of GT power and inspiration. This jargonized leveling splatters to below a level of recognition, these exciting properties of GT; splattering conceptually productive ideas down to the descriptive level of QDA.
Jargoning is both deeply seductive for QDA and destructive of classical GT. Thus the remodeling alternative to GT is studying QDA articles and jargonizing them as GT. So the knowledgeability and joys of actual classical GT are bypassed and wiped out for, and by, jargonizing. The conceptual originality goal of classical GT is leveled to routine descriptive findings by the mistaken views by jargonizing the GT experience as QDA research. No wonder the flat research findings of supposed GT; they are not classical GT.
Since jargonizing GT far outruns the method and product, the latter cannot keep up with the former and thereby correct the distorted meanings of jargonizing. The procedural strength of classical GT is missed. Indeed, jargonizing QDA procedures with the GT vocabulary reflect on the classical GT procedures as a weakness, since they are misconstrued, but more on this in the next chapter on Data Worries.
In the bargain GT, as originated by me in 1965 in my paper, “The Constant Comparative Method of Qualitative Analysis”, (Social Problems, Spring 1965) and then further elaborated in Discovery of GT (1967) and Theoretical Sensitivity (1978), has been remodeled down to the descriptive level of QDA. The result is that GT, as originated, is lost to the readers of the Sage Handbook. In many other areas of academia, GT is alive, well and flourishing on the conceptual level. Its power cannot be stopped. Students flock to my seminars to get the genuine classical GT training.
This book is not an impression, not an epistemological fluff talk, not a conjecture. It is a GT based on one year’s careful reading and constant comparison of the 27 articles, plus introduction and glossary, in the Sage Handbook (Bryant and Charmaz, 2007). It is a treasure trove of rich comparative data just waiting for a constant comparative analysis to generate a GT
of what is going on in the Handbook. My appreciation goes out the editors, Bryant and Charmaz, for offering such a unique wealth of data in one volume. The title itself has great “grab” as a jargonizing buzzword, since the GT methodology is a GT itself. I hope to mine this comparative data to the fullest by focusing on the core category - jargonizing. It even has a glossary of GT concepts, (with some concepts not suitable for classical GT), that the authors use and can use for jargonizing QDA with GT concepts.
As my constant comparisons of the articles in the Handbook continued, it became clear that qualitative data analysis lacked a vocabulary with grab by which to address its issues and research. And so the authors borrowed the GT vocabulary (which itself was a GT with great grab) to be used as a jargon by which to talk about QDA. The result for classical GT was its remodeling down to the descriptive nature of QDA and all its data problems, to lose the conceptual level of GT and to wrongly authenticate multiple ‘versions’ of GT, which are really only multiple versions of QDA. The one and only GT, as originated, was lost in the jargonizing of QDA with the GT vocabulary. GT became multiple versions of QDA.
After reading and assimilating this book, I trust that the reader will approach the Sage Handbook with a much different perspective, using the theory of jargonizing. To help the reader, I will list the pages in the Handbook from which I took the items for constant comparison and in generating the emergent GT of jargonizing. To repeat, one could not ask for a better treasure of data; there for the asking, from which to generate a GT. As Anselm Strauss would say, it is a superb cache of data just asking for analysis (Discovery, 1967, pp.167-168).
Yes, dear reader, the Sage Handbook, upon close examination, is 90% jargonizing distortion of GT as originated. If the authors could simply master the jargon, they did not have to do the scholarship or have the experience of a rigorous GT research. The authors just remodel GT at will with jargonizing legitimation to become part of the network of remodeling GT to multiple QDA’s. Only about 5% of the authors really used the GT vocabulary with proper meaning when talking about the experiential, ‘nitty gritty’ of GT procedures. The 95% of authors remaining are just jargonizers chatting up QDA every which with the GT vocabulary, AS IF talking GT which they are really not.
Essential GT meanings are lost to the jargonizing. It seems that when in doubt about QDA issues, jargon it up with GT categories to sound legitimately knowledgeable -- to be in the loop. Jargonizing joins one to the network.
The jargonizers always forget or ignore or are not knowledgeable that GT, as originated, is just a simple, straight forward procedural method to induct theory from any type of data; that is, interviews, documents, observations, conversations, newspapers, books, magazines, videos, etc in any combination or alone. For GT “all is data”. GT is just a simple procedural method to ground conceptual theory; a method among many methods. It is not all QDA methods; it is not descriptive. It is trite to say that all methods are grounded - they are in some way - but all methods are not GT. Jargonizers forget this trite knowledge.
Bryant and Charmaz say that GT has two major contributions (Hdbk, Ch.1). It gives a method and a product. They seem unaware of its third major contribution: a powerful research vocabulary with “grab”, which to these authors is apparently its most important contribution when it is used to describe QDA issues and since QDA had little or no vocabulary before GT. I, too, was unaware of the power of the GT vocabulary. I just taught GT method and product when at the University of California Medical Center. It is only recently that I began to see the jargon of GT as being used far beyond its true meaning; that it was leading to more talk than research method and product as it jargonized virtually all of QDA.
These Handbook authors take the GT vocabulary far beyond its boundaries, to many different versions of QDA called GT, to competition with grand theory, and to ideal types of what is or ought to be data, to mutual use with other forms of methods, feigning mutual help problems, to remodeling GT according to QDA preconception, and to potential use as description and as it becomes used for it. The jargonizing of the GT vocabulary is used way beyond actual GT research as if all QDA research is GT or fits GT. The jargonizing starts with the grab of the very title, “grounded theory:” GT has become a buzz word for all QDA research.
I have written at length on the rigorous procedures of GT methodology in several books. I have published several readers
exampling the GT product. These are the two contributions of GT that Bryant and Charmaz focus and remark on. This books deals with the third and perhaps most pervasive contribution of GT methodology: its vocabulary. The grab is used to legitimate by jargon, QDA issues and research. The Handbook shows the power of conceptual jargoning of QDA every which way so its issues can be conceptualized and talked about and the people talking sound expert. They sound expert when they actually have no notion of the GT methodology procedures to which the vocabulary truly refers. The authors refer to uses that sound good, however unfounded in GT methodology as originated. Truly the GT vocabulary is powerful with grab and is perhaps the most important contribution of GT thought. The vocabulary is itself a GT theory, which explains its power. It was a method generated and based on our previous very successful research (see Organizational Scientists, 1964 and Awareness of Dying, 1965). The GT method stands on its own and can be used for any research where the goal is a theory product. It does not need adoption to the preconceptions of other methods or research goals or areas. It just discovers the patterns in any data. Jargonizing GT to make it compatible with preconceived problems is not necessary for GT as originated. The preconceptions may not have earned relevance be emergence. These Handbook authors are stuck mainly on data worries (see next chapter) as their experience. Their jargonizing gives no real examples of doing genuine GT research. They mostly do not go beyond data collection to get to the remaining procedures to get to a genuine GT, as originated. Their jargonizing is conjectural since they have none of the GT research experience of going through the GT procedures to get a finished GT product. They are stuck with jargonizing with little or no meaning of genuine GT in its use. GT vocabulary for jargonizing QDA approaches is destructive. It remodels GT to a QDA on the descriptive level. The jargonizers, by usage, are not aware they are doing it as they engage in their heavy talk to appear knowledgeable and to join likening colleagues and to further their careers through publications subject to peer review by these likening colleagues.
The jargonizers splatter their pages with non-relevant issues for classical GT leading to a bewildering complexifying of GT,
indicating they just simply do not know classical GT. It seems that all they need to do is jargon it up, QDA, that is and the result is a wrestle leading to nowhere, unsolvable non-relevant issues. All of which their lofty talk is certainly not helpful to any researcher who wants to do a classical GT and achieve a good product. And in the words of Judith Holton, the consequence: “And strangely, they always seem so pleased with themselves when they can convolute and confuse with their jargonizing wrestles which lead nowhere for solid classical GT research.”(Email, circa 4/08). The true wisdom of classical GT procedures is simple, not complex.
The jargonizers adopt adapt and co-opt classical GT with structurally based possessiveness as they remodel GT to multiple QDA methods. The structure of their departments, books and journals give them an assumed authority, with little or no scholarly grounding. The intuitively based, natural predilection to do classical GT is lost to conjecture and scientism. Jargonizing feels like one is doing something, BUT NO, whatever it is they are achieving, it is not doing GT as originated to achieve a worthy substantive grounded theory. Emotions can run high among the jargonizers over the rhetorical wrestle, while denuding the joy that comes from simply doing a substantive GT. In this book, I will discuss and illustrate the nature of this jargonizing with its little or no true meaning of the words, its use and multiple consequences and its remodeling of the classical GT methodology. It is impossible to stop the grab of GT jargonizing of QDA, many people are firm and fixed in their use of it. BUT, it is possible to help the reader realize the existence and use of the GT vocabulary so it can be realized for what it is, a major contribution of classical GT and not to be used to jargonize and therefore remodel GT by default, by its unaware use for talking about QDA issues.
Two of my PhD students reminded me that I realized the jargonizing pattern in the remodeling nature to QDA as early as 2003. Dr. Tom Andrews wrote in 2007: “GT continues to provide a strong rationale underpinning qualitative research. This may partially explain one of the most pressing challenges to grounded theory: the eroding and continuing rewriting of the method. This may in part be explained by the fact that it has given qualitative researchers a ready made language that they can use to legitimate their studies but has in the process served to subvert
grounded theory, resulting in complexifying a simple methodology (Glaser, 2003)”, (The Grounded Theory Review, Nov, 2007, p. 56). In the same journal (p.48), Dr Hans Thulesius, MD, in talking about the comparison of diverse books on qualitative research said: “One of Barney’s own comments of these comparisons is - and this is a real Email quote in 2003 -- “Hans, as I have said, if nothing else, I gave the world a jargon that legitimizes.” He continues: “The Discovery of GT book in Nov 2007 got 8545 citation hits on Google Scholar. No other method book dealing with qualitative data analysis gets even half that many citations” I can only hazard the hypothesis that one source of the spread in popularity of GT is the “grab” of the GT vocabulary, which easily runs far ahead of the method and actually achieving the product of classical GT research. Furthermore, Judith Holton writes about the brief “brush with Barney” as a legitimation of jargonizing: “Yes, I saw his using you the first time I read the preface. He’s used his brief brushes with you to infer that you are on the same page, and, to make it worse, he’s dismissive of your stance” (Email 9/14/08). Tony Bryant used my legitimating name by saying in referring to the Handbook perspective as a resource: “This in turn evoked Barney’s rejoinder, ‘Your vision of the handbook is right on’.” (Hdbk, p.xxx) which was a verbal brush with me. It legitimated the jargonizing to follow through the Handbook. Such claiming to doing GT and actually using it is a great discrepancy that remodels classical GT to QDA. Some have told me that remodeling is too mild a term. It should be termed a “take over” by jargonizing, which builds careers. I teach frequently, so the brushes continue. I am told that the jargonizing remodeling effort is gaining more momentum in Developing Grounded Theory: The Second Generation (Morse et al, 2009). Be that as it may, this book will serve to maintain the integrity of GT as originated and as separate from QDA methodology, no matter how it is jargonized using GT vocabulary.
Judith Holton, an experienced GT researcher and teacher, comments on this book on jargonizing as follows: “Your use of the Handbook as data for the jargonizing book is brilliant – without a doubt the best use that will ever be made of it. You’re setting the record straight with a truly scholarly response to another unscholarly bash of classical GT. I am learning a lot from your
transcending approach. In doing so, you may show them how to use the classical GT methods with any data – that is, if the reader is sufficiently open to seeing it. The jargonizing book may become as popular as Basics of Grounded Theory Analysis” (Email 9/7/08). I am not alone in realizing the core category as the pattern emergent in this Handbook. Tony Bryant refers to jargonizing, though not realizing it. “Titscher et al. explain the predominance of GT in part by the enormous number of citations of Glaser and Strauss’s, The Discovery of Grounded Theory, Awareness of Dying and Time for Dying books, whereas other approaches do not have such specific and widely acclaimed core texts. (Kearny, in Chapter 6, describes these three texts as ‘the definitive GT tutorial’.) Yet, as Lee and Fielding note, “[W]hen qualitative researchers are challenged to describe their approach, reference to grounded theory has the highest recognition value. But the very looseness and variety of researchers’ schooling in the approach means that the tag may well mean something different to each researcher’(1996:3.1)” (Hdbk, p.2). Recognition value is simply achieved by jargonizing QDA with the GT vocabulary that has “grab”. It is clear that jargonizing has been going on for many years. It is the power of classical GT which produced a vocabulary with a powerful “grab” yet to be equaled. It was needed. The Handbook in substantiating the attributes and contributions of GT as originated clarifies by jargonizing the ways in which researchers have developed by jargonizing adaptation of GT to QDA use. As the reader will see, this leads to much confusion unless GT is seen as its own conceptualizing, inductive method and the reader drops its jargonizing use for other QDA research methods. The Introduction and Chapter One of the Handbook are full of allusions to jargonizing as they discuss problems of QDA research techniques.
Vivian Martin, PhD, a very able grounded theorist, Emailed me: “The jargoning of GT is so vast and has become such a standin for actually doing the method, as you note Barney, so this is an important statement and intervention.” Astrid Gynnild, PhD, another GT advocate Emailed: “Barney, your chapter on jargonizing opens up a new way of understanding and getting insights in strategies for imitation of GT that concerns most of us.” (Email 10/8/08).
My intervention will only explain jargonizing’s pervasive use and its remodeling of GT to another QDA. It will not stop it. For example, Bryant states, after referring to the large group of GT adherents using GT with vast global reach: “Far too many references to GT fail to get much beyond a few slogans or mantras supposedly corroborated by reference to key texts, as if the rich detail and complexities magically flow from the latter.” (Hdbk,p.8). Clearly although apparently unaware, he is referring to jargonizing GT. This is just one more of the interchangeable indicators of jargonizing GT down to QDA which abound in the Handbook.
It is impossible to stop the GT jargonizing of QDA methods. People are firm and fixed in their use of it. But it is not impossible to explain and realize its existence and its use by QDA researchers, and its consequences for remodeling classical GT. Thus the classical GT conceptual vocabulary can be realized for what it is – a major contribution of classical GT and not to be used to remodel classical GT by its unaware use. I hope to forestall the pervasive nonstop jargonizing which fosters the disattendance to classical GT simple procedures used to conceptually generate theory based on patterns found in any data. I have certainly not relaxed my classical GT perspective as Bryant and Charmaz suggest in Chapter 1. That Charmaz was my student at UCSF 40 years ago does not excuse her jargonizing or give my support to it.
Colleagues have told me that classical GT has been virtually high jacked by so many who have not appreciated that classical GT is not a qualitative descriptive method; some simply because they do not know better and others because they think they do know – or know better. The confusion between GT and QDA consequences to a fading of boundaries between research methods with a resulting undermining of classical GT by jargonizing QDA while amplifying its spread as just another QDA method. I know, as the originator of classical GT, that the jargonizing in the Handbook is incorrect for classical GT.
In this book, I will discuss and illustrate the nature of jargonizing use, its multiple consequences and its easily almost imperceptible remodeling of classical GT methodology. I turn now discuss data worries; fit with other QDA approaches; conceptualizing; lofty talk; and then, multiple versions view of GT.
I would like to end this chapter with a quote from my colleague Judith Holton:
“Here we are, fifteen years later, riding the wave of yet another epistemological fashion in constructivism. While each epistemological trend carries classic GT further from its foundations, the methodological vocabulary of GT persists. This persistence is clear evidence not only of its empirical grounding and imageric grab, but also of an obvious void within qualitative research for a similar vocabulary to explain and guide its methodological progression. Vocabulary devoid of its substantive meaning is empty. The subsequent lexical drift fosters the remodeling confusion that continues to position GT as a qualitative method. So this book by Glaser will serve to set the record straight again on the basics of classic GT, reclaiming its methodological vocabulary and challenging current qualitative scholars to transcend constructivist notions and acknowledge GT as a simple method using empirically grounded data to generate conceptually abstract theory.” (Email memo 8/9/08).
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