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From the Editor’s Desk: Remembering Barney Glaser

We publish this June 2022 issue of The Grounded Theory Review with sorrow at the loss of our dear teacher, mentor, and colleague, Dr. Barney G. Glaser, the co-originator and constant champion of the original classic theory methodology now referred to as classic grounded theory. Several Grounded Theory Institute Fellows and Grounded Theory Review peer reviewers pay tribute to Glaser in this issue. Imbued with both sadness at his loss and a celebration of his life, heartfelt tributes are offered by Astrid Gynnild, Norway; Judith Holton, Canada; Odis Simmons, USA; Tom Andrews, Ireland; Barry Chametzky, USA; Andy Lowe, UK and Thailand; Kara Vander Linden, USA; and Alvita Nathaniel, USA. Ólavur Christianson, Faroe Islands, and Barry Chametzky, USA, offer scientific papers that demonstrate the possibilities of classic grounded theory. Also included in this issue are two methodology papers. Dr. Daniel Ash, from the UK, offers a conceptual discussion based on an epistemological debate that took place during a doctoral viva voce examination for a classic grounded theory study exploring police behavior during domestic abuse incidents. The discussion uncovered conflicts regarding how methodology is received and understood by scholars from different research philosophical perspectives. Drs. Robert Wright, Judith Wright, Gordon Medlock, and Mike Zwell, from the USA, write about a study that highlights the synergies between classic grounded theory and the process of non-directive leadership and emergence coaching, both of which focus on the emergence of explanatory core concepts that characterize what is happening in the data field of practice. As you will learn from the tribute papers that follow, Barney Glaser was a man with vast experience in a number of academic traditions. He traveled internationally and learned research, theory, language, and sociology from world renowned scholars. With fellow sociologist Anslem Strauss, nurse scholar, Jeanne Quint Benoliel, and others, Glaser carved out the new research method while studying dying in San Francisco hospital settings. He went on to refine, explain, and teach the method throughout the remainder of his life. It is impossible to list the qualities that defined Barney Glaser. Even with his vast experience and knowledge, he remained humble, intuitive, generous, funny, and kind. He understood the world at both macro and micro levels and had insight that could cut to the heart of any matter. Through his academic career, authorship, and troubleshooting seminars, Glaser taught hundreds of grounded theory researchers. Like patterns that can only be seen from a distance, grounded theories uncover important latent processes that would not otherwise be recognized. Grounded theories explain and predict what’s going on in people’s lives in ways that allow institutional systems and individuals to affect behaviors and avoid potential problems. A multitude of theories generated from classic grounded theory have improved the world we live in. The application of theories such as awareness of dying, time for dying, super normalizing, credentializing, cultivating, creative undermining, moral reckoning, visualizing worsening progressions, pluralistic dialoguing, rehumanizing knowledge work, opportunizing, purposive attending, routing, sensualizing, becoming an alcoholic, and many others offer insights that continue to improve the lives of people. Thus, Glaser’s influence spreads like a gentle wind. Alvita Nathaniel, PhD...

The Future of Grounded Theory

Barney G. Glaser, Ph.D., Hon. Ph.D. Editor’s Note: As we celebrate this great man’s life, we re-publish[1] this gently edited paper about what the future of grounded theory is likely to be. Glaser discussed in whose hands the future of grounded theory appears to be as well as what accounts for its spread, its use, and its misuse. Glaser first wrote this paper in 1998 and updated it for publication in The Grounded Theory Review in 2010. Much of Glaser’s predictions have proven accurate. I would like examine what I consider the future of grounded theory. I will discuss in whose hands the future of grounded theory appears to be and what accounts for its spread, its use and misuse, and where the majority of grounded theory studies are occurring. I will then briefly review poor grounded theory, qualitative grounded theory, social fictions, and theory bits. Finally, I will touch on the future structures in which grounded theory will be taught and centered. First, a few guidelines are necessary. Grounded theory refers to a specific methodology on how to get from systematically collecting data to producing a multivariate conceptual theory. It is a total methodological package. It provides a series of systematic, exact methods that start with collecting data and take the researcher to a theoretical piece that is publishable. Now, all research is grounded in data in some way. It is implicit in the definition of research. Thus, research is grounded by definition, but research grounded in data is not grounded theory, although many jargonizers would have their work designated that way. It is grounded theory only when it follows the grounded theory methodological package. Second, grounded theory is just a small piece of the action in social psychological research. Research methods go in many directions, using many methodological approaches, both quantitative and qualitative and mixes thereof. Grounded theory is a specific general methodology. It is no better or worse than other methods. It is just another option for researchers. Grounded theory is used in part or in whole by researchers. When used in part, it is “adopt and adapt,” with other research methods woven in, based on the training and judgment of the researcher involved. The multi version view of GT is based on jargonizing with the GT vocabulary, not on the GT procedures (Glaser, 2009). I will speak here on the pure or orthodox view, knowing as I said in my reader, Grounded Theory, 1984-1994 (Glaser, 1995), that most researchers mix methods by jargonizing. Third, when Anselm Strauss and I wrote The Discovery of Grounded Theory in 1967 (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), Anselm would say to me, “Barney, we are 15 to 20 years ahead of our time.” He was right in my view, so I thought, “Good, I can do other things and bide my time.” Well, to my surprise, 15 to 20 years later, grounded theory has gone global, seriously global among the disciplines of nursing, business, and education and less so among other social-psychological-oriented disciplines such as social welfare, psychology, sociology, and art. Sociology Press sells books to Russia, Iran, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, China, Poland, Netherlands, Australia as well as Northern Europe. Everywhere I travel, people come to my workshops at some expense and from some distance to hear me and to ask questions. People compete for my attention and to be my host. I embody what they embrace—grounded theory. Since I wrote Basics of Grounded Theory Analysis (Glaser, 1992), I have been...

Barney Glaser: Remembering a Genius

Odis E. Simmons I was introduced to the ideas of Barney Glaser in 1967 when I was an undergraduate student at Sonoma State College (now University). I was pondering what field to declare as my major subject. I was interested in sociology, but after reading several randomly selected works of classic and contemporary sociology theorists, I had doubts. These works were written for an academic audience and at that time I didn’t envision myself as an academic. Also, I couldn’t imagine myself being able to write anything like what I was reading. While browsing through the sociology section in the campus bookstore, I came across Glaser & Strauss’ The Discover of Grounded Theory. After skimming through it, I decided to buy it, take it home, and read it. It really grabbed me. This book sealed my interest in sociology and prompted me to declare it as my major. Three of the five professors on the sociology faculty were symbolic interactionists who had done their PhD studies at UC Berkeley. I took every course I could from these three excellent professors. Looking back on it, I realize that I received doctoral level instruction in symbolic interaction from them. One of them informed me that Strauss had recently founded a PhD program in sociology at The University of California San Francisco, where Glaser was also on the faculty. I was excited about the prospect of being able to learn grounded theory from its originators. When I inquired, I was disappointed to find out that student enrollment for the next year was closed. After a year in the Graduate Program in Social Psychology at The University of Nevada, Reno I applied to the UCSF program. I was admitted for the fall quarter of 1970. By this time, I had read Strauss’ Mirror & Masks, Strauss & Lindesmith’s Social Psychology, as well as Glaser & Strauss’ Awareness of Dying and Time for Dying. I also reread Discovery. When I joined the UCSF program in 1970, I was well steeped in symbolic interactionism and as steeped in grounded theory as one could be at the time. I enrolled in Barney’s “Analysis” seminar, in which he taught, refined, and further developed grounded theory. I learned a huge amount in these seminars but, for me, they were only a small portion of what I learned from Barney. We both lived north of San Francisco. After my first seminar session with him he suggested we commute together. We met in the parking lot of a Mill Valley supermarket, where I joined him in his Volkswagen Squareback. Because parking around the university was very limited, he parked in Golden Gate Park and we walked a considerable distance to the Victorian house where the seminar was held. During the walk we usually talked about grounded theory. Afterwards we returned to Mill Valley where we sat in his car and had long discussions about grounded theory, during which he continually took notes. Our conversations fostered what became a lifelong friendship. We both had daughters close in age. Our families socialized, often at his home. As we watched our daughters play, we talked about grounded theory, “life, the universe and everything.” Barney’s seminars and these conversations were the most inspiring intellectual times of my life. Through them, my career and even personal life were shaped. I became determined to make grounded theory the focus on my career, even if it meant following a non-conventional academic/professional path, as he was doing. Enter...

The Celebration of Barney Glaser: A Personal Perspective

Andy Lowe Over 30 years ago, whilst I was running the PhD research methodology program in the University of Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow Scotland, I first met with Barney Glaser.  I had just had a book published with two other authors entitled “Management Research.”   The publishers, Sage [to save money], had produced a double-sided flyer to promote the book.  On one side of the flyer was our book and the flip side was another book authored by Evert Gummesson from Stockholm University.  Neither Evert nor I had ever met so we independently decided to contact each other for a future possible collaboration.  During the course of our conversations, it emerged that Evert was a friend of Barney Glaser and had been his guest at his home in Mill Valley California.  I asked Evert to forward Barney’s contact details because I wanted to invite him to Scotland so that he could give a seminar to the PhD researchers and faculty in the Strathclyde University Business School in Glasgow.  It is worth remarking that it was Evert, a few years later, who successfully proposed to Stockholm University that Barney be awarded an honorary doctorate for his services to research methodology.  Although Barney has no idea who I was he immediately said yes to my request to coming to give a seminar providing two conditions were met.  Firstly, he would bring both his wife Carolyn and his son Barney Jr.  Secondly, Barney required me to make an undertaking that he would not tolerate any kind of rhetorical wrestle from academics.  I mention these two conditions in the context of getting a deeper understanding of Barney Glaser’s three main concerns.  Firstly, his family were the key thing in his life.  He had never made any kind of academic visit to the UK previously and he wanted it to be shared by some members of his family.  Secondly, he did not want to waste his time taking part in any of empty intellectual rhetoric; rather he just wanted to make sure that people understood the nuances of the Grounded Theory method. The third issue that emerged during his visit to Scotland was he unlimited generosity.  He and his wife Carolyn invited me to come and stay them in California any time I was able.  I was very happy to take up this invitation many times. An important legacy that Barney was always eager to retain is the Sociology Press.  He was fully aware of the capricious behavior of most publishers.  Publishers frequently just pulp any title if the sales statistics fall below their desired target.  The Sociology Press is vital to minimize the contamination of the Grounded Theory which GT remodelers are doing. For more on this check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy5lRUeqwb2ITjbT7rkuszg. Barney’s generosity was boundless.  He always took calls from any genuine PhD researcher who needed immediate help and guidance.  Many of his replies Barney captured in his book entitled A Cry for Help.  Another of the driving forces behind all of Barney’s intellectual activities was his insistence in pushing the importance of the intellectual autonomy of all the PhD researchers he came across.  He empowered me to retire early because working full time in an academic environment was dumbing me down. he said to me.  The path to discovering one’s own intellectual autonomy, Barney Glaser explained, comprised of four essential things.  Firstly, the important of always maintaining an appropriate moral stance.  Secondly, Barney always displayed due humility when presenting his...

Building a Learning Community: The GT Troubleshooting Seminar

Judith Holton Abstract This paper explores the evolution of Barney Glaser’s troubleshooting seminar approach to which I add my own experiences as both a participant and facilitator of several similar seminars.  The paper begins by situating the seminar approach in Glaser’s early teaching experiences from which his pedagogy would develop. After recounting my own introduction to GT seminars, I then explore their design, structure, and process. I conclude the paper by offering some advice to those who must learn GT on their own. Introduction Barney Glaser has referred to learning grounded theory as “development driven” (Glaser, 1998, pp. 56–60); a “delayed action learning process” (1978, p. 6, 1998, p. 220, 2001, p. 1, 2003, p. 78) where the experiential is essential to truly understanding and effecting the methodology.  Having worked for several years with graduate students at University of California San Francisco (UCSF), he recognized the limitations of Discovery (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) as a methodological guide. Indeed, this was a primary motivation for his authoring of Theoretical Sensitivity (Glaser, 1978), in which he offers guidance in applying the “full package” of classic grounded theory methodology. The guidance offered was grounded in his years of teaching at UCSF, from which he concluded that learning together in a seminar format was the optimum way of teaching and learning grounded theory. Glaser’s early seminars at UCSF adopted what he called a “revolving collaboration” model with “committed full time participants’’ (Glaser, 1978, p. 33). The intention was to encourage openness to ideas, to “de-contain” (p.34) participants’ preconceptions and often strongly defended perspectives, replacing defensiveness with “the right to be wrong” (p. 34), all in aid of advancing the conceptual analysis of the data as presented.  Kathy Charmaz was one of Glaser’s students at UCSF.  She described Glaser’s approach as unconventional at a time when the typical graduate seminar was focused on exploring and critiquing extant literature.  She suggested, “…Barney’s innovative method of engaging students in theory construction in class sessions turned the conventional sociology graduate seminar inside out and, simultaneously, encouraged students’ analytic thinking” (Charmaz, 2011, p. 181).  Over the years, Glaser continued to employ a seminar approach in his teaching and mentoring of grounded theory.  While the intention and focus of his seminars remained consistent, the structure changed to what Gynnild (2011) describes as a “fly-in, fly-out” (p. 38) intensive three-day format that enabled students from all corners of the globe to attend.  Glaser would later extend the reach of his work by effectively embracing both virtual technologies and a growing cadre of experienced classic grounded theorists whom he had mentored through earlier seminars as aids in overcoming the ‘minus mentoring’ challenge (Glaser, 1998), a term Glaser had used to describe those students who do not have access to local expertise in grounded theory, whether through supervisors or collegial networks. Finding Community My own experience of Glaser’s troubleshooting seminars began in 2003. Like many new to GT, I had encountered confusion in working my way through the various GT perspectives offered in texts and journal papers.  The more I read, the more confusing I found the advice being offered.  My wish was to do GT as it was originally presented in Discovery (Glaser & Strauss, 1967).  I had tried using strategies and advice offered in Strauss and Corbin’s (1990) text, but I found the advice took me through repetitive cycles of analysis that resulted in what seemed to me to be rather predictable descriptive outcomes.  Where was the creativity that Discovery...

Reflections on the first Grounded Theory Seminar: A tribute to Dr. Barney, G. Glaser...

Dr. Tom Andrews, Lecturer Emeritus, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College, Cork, Ireland I first met Dr. Barney Glaser in April 2002 in Paris, France the evening before the first CGT seminar.  At that preliminary gathering I met Dr. Barry Gibson for the first time, who knew Barney.  Amongst the PhD students I met was Vivian Martin and Anna Sandgren and we are still in contact.  Given the high cost of hotels in Paris, I had to stay some distance from where the seminar was being held.  I underestimated the time of getting to the Holiday Inn (the venue) and missed the beginning of the seminar.  As a result, I missed Barney’s introduction and was unaware of the format of the seminar.  He did not do then what he did in future seminars and that is what he refers to as atmosphering, which sets the stage for conceptual discovery by creating a safe environment for participants to learn and have their issues dealt with in a non-threatening way (Gynnild 2011).  This became an integral part of all seminars and I use it just the same in seminars that I have been involved in to set the tone.  Almost as soon as I sat down, Barney turned to me and asked me to present where I was up to in my study and what I needed help with.  Without having any idea what he was looking for, I presented what I had ready.  It was enough to get me the help that I needed.  He gave me very positive feedback and helpful tips.  This is a defining feature of the seminars, where the aim is to get students to what Barney often referred to as the next level in their study.  I learned a lot from that seminar because, like so many students, I was a minus mentoree at the time.  I was at the beginning of my second year of a PhD 3-year programme and about to collect data. Over the course of the two days of the seminar, Barney gave a general introduction to classic grounded theory (GT) and what I learned from this seminar is outlined below. Everything is organised in the social world—even disorganisation.  This implies systems of organisation, be they macro or micro.  GT is a methodology for discovering these systems.  Later, Barney was to write briefly about this when he maintained that there is a social reality and that the goal of GT is to enable the natural social organisation of substantive life to emerge (Glaser 1998).  This is entirely consistent with the nature of social reality in social constructionism as discussed by Berger and Luckmann (1966) that everyday life presents itself as a reality interpreted by people and subjectively meaningful to them.  At the seminar Barney said that if anything, GT is based on structural realism, but he did not expand on this. However, this is not to be confused with the view of reality evident within the positivist tradition. In preparation for the seminar, Barney asked us to think about what we needed help with.  For example, if that was coding then bring some data for everyone to code. From the beginning, Barney encouraged us to drop what he termed as citizenship. Of course, this was a new concept to us as were many of the things that he subsequently outlined and discussed.  This meant that we were to suspend who we were socially, such as father, friend, nurse, and become...