Research Method: Constructivist Grounded Theory

30th May 2023

Funded Project:
Methods for Change Phase 2

This ‘how to’ guide outlines the Constructivist Grounded Theory research method used by Dr Denise Miller from the University of Greenwich. The artwork was created in collaboration with Chris Murray, More than Minutes.

Social scientists from the Methods for Change project came together to discuss the research methods they use and how methods create change in society. Drawing from the expertise in the Aspect network, they collaborated on a series of ‘how to’ guides which are step-by-step instructions and top-tips for adopting these methods in a range of sectors. Visual and multisensory pieces, including comics, illustrations, posters, booklets, short films and animations were then developed in collaboration with creatives to capture the key value of these research methods with a view to being able to convey them to a variety of audiences.

It is hoped that these resources will be useful for people in higher education, commercial, public sector, third sector and community organisations who are interested in experimenting with, and expanding professional skills in, the adoption of social science research methods.

Constructivist Grounded Theory (CGT) is an effective method for finding out about a phenomenon where little is known. The appeal of CGT is that unlike many other approaches, it embraces the idea of subjective reality. In other words, the notion that a researcher’s own knowledges and worldviews can influence the research process, and potentially the findings, is not a problem. Rather, CGT researchers do not shy away from explaining their subjectivities – their personal perspectives, feelings, beliefs or experiences.

In fact, this is an essential element in building an in-depth understanding of participants’ narratives, and in generating a unique explanation about their practices, actions and perceptions. That said, reflexivity is a key component of CGT research. Reflexivity asks that researchers recognise, and in essence, take responsibility for how their subjectivities impact all aspects of the research process, including the impact on participants, the research questions, the data collection, and indeed, the ways in which data is analysed.

Download the Constructivist Grounded Theory ‘how to’ guide.

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