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The Case for a Critical Realist Grounded Theory Research Design

Looker, Ben ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9999-2545, Vickers, Jason and Kington, Alison ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5619-2353 (2021) The Case for a Critical Realist Grounded Theory Research Design. In: Dealing with Grounded Theory : Discussing, Learning, and Practice. Pisa University Press, Pisa, pp. 139-168. ISBN 978-883339-5241

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Abstract

Although a constructivist approach is currently the dominant grounded theory methodology, its development into arguably three separate families highlights the versatility of grounded theory methodology. This chapter proposes a grounded theory methodological framework which diverges from the popular constructivist approach and is, instead, heavily influenced by the classic, Glaserian approach but situated in a critical realist philosophy. It will examine each of the dominant three families of grounded theory methodology and discuss the epistemological and ontological dilemmas faced when applying a critical realist philosophy in place of those already established. This discussion is used as justification why a critical realist approach must rely heavily on classical grounded theory.
This chapter explores the importance of the emancipatory goal of critical realism and how grounded theory can be used as a tool to give voice to the subjugated or alienated. Critical realism has been criticised as a philosophy without a methodology and this chapter explores the relatively unfamiliar territory of marrying critical realism with grounded theory. The chapter intends to open discourse into how Glaser’s emergence of theory can be intertwined with the emergent properties of reality explored in Bhaskar’s critical realism to get a deeper understanding of the reality which gives rise to action. The methodological debate which is explored centre’s around Bhaskar’s understanding of the ‘real’ domain of reality and the subsequent emergence of empirically observable actions through a generative property. It is proposed that these processes take place in open systems and as such can be researched using a grounded theory methodology.
Although a heavily methodological chapter, it also explores
how the authors have developed this approach for educational
research, the importance of remaining within the data when
designing a critical realist grounded theory research design and some of the potential problems and suggested solutions to coding data using a critical realist lens.
A retroductive, rather than an inductive, framework is proposed as a means of analysing empirical observations. The benefits and disadvantages of each approach is considered from both a methodological and a heuristic perspective. Examples from doctoral research are given to situate the discussion in data and provide a platform to contribute to the limited discourse a propos retroduction in grounded theory. Finally, the chapter will suggest how the process of constant comparison can be amended to ensure that all data is reduced, down critical realism’s generative property of emergence, as far as possible, to its causative concepts. These causative concepts are then considered, with examples, as a means of identifying the reality experienced by actors. It is then suggested that this not only gives the researcher conclusions which can be drawn from their data, but also the opportunity to suggest practical approaches which can be employed either on a micro or macro level to address an identified cause of alienation.

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Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
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Depositing User: Dr Benjamin Looker
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2021 09:04
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2021 09:04
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/10610

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