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grounded theory An idea pioneered by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss (in their book The Discovery of Grounded Theory, 1967) in which theory is developed from close observation of the world. In contrast to formal or abstract theory, which is developed by deducing (according to logical rules) hypotheses which are then tested against observations, the grounded approach argues for inductive theory-building: that is, developing theoretical ideas from observations of the data themselves. Glaser and Strauss argue that such theory should construct ‘sensitizing concepts’ from observation, drawing out comparisons with other linked areas (in a process they call the constant comparative method), and should sample theoretically (for example by sampling critical cases). The approach is closely linked to symbolic interactionism, and is one of the few logics of qualitative research, another being analytic induction.
theory, grounded See GROUNDED THEORY.