The erosion of a method: Examples from grounded theory

Thomas Greckhamer, Mirka Koro-Ljungberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Since its original inception in the 1960s grounded theory has been widely used by many qualitative researchers. However, recently epistemologically different versions of grounded theory have been presented and this epistemological diversity among grounded theorists and the erosion of the method will be the major focus of this paper. The first section explores the question of what 'erosion' of grounded theory means for the practice of qualitative research and the epistemological assumptions embedded in different uses of grounded theory are discussed. Furthermore, three ways to use qualitative methods are conceptualized: epistemological, strategic and intuitive. Additionally, the first section describes the erosion that occurs when research methods are transferred from one epistemology to another. The second part of the paper raises the questions as to whether it is possible to transfer methods from one epistemological realm and theoretical stance to another one to do qualitative research situated therein and how the erosion of a method influences qualitative research. To elucidate these questions, examples will be drawn from grounded theory to illuminate the different uses of methods. Last, the authors ask why such a transfer would be attempted altogether. In this final part of the paper they discuss how grounded theory is used as a label, believing that much of the current popularization of grounded theory is based on power, privilege and authority.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-750
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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