From the Editor

In this issue, we present one of Barney Glaser’s classic papers, The Local-Cosmopolitan Scientist, originally published in 1963. In this paper, we see how he used secondary analysis of survey data to conceptualize and propose a theory of local and cosmopolitan as a dual orientation rather than the perspective of the time which presented them as dichotomous. In his concise explanation of his methodological approach, we see the early emergence of classic grounded theory methodology and its power to use any data. Here he has worked quantitative data to generate concepts, sorting and organizing his ideas into a concise theoretical explanation that proposed new insights into previously accepted ideas. Glaser’s early papers should serve as food for thought for those who continue to advocate that grounded theory is a qualitative method rooted in symbolic interactionism. As the book reviews and commentaries in this issue suggest, however, the methodological muddle of approaches that now seek to occupy the grounded theory landscape suggest otherwise.

Ekins (this issue) offers us a theory under development using a “grounded theory approach” in a discipline that is not well known for grounded theories. He writes beautifully and honestly, offering some interesting emergent concepts but as both Thulesius and Martin suggest in their commentaries on his paper, falls short of a full grounded theory. Their suggestions as to how he might proceed and possibly rescue his theory are valuable advice for many who find themselves conflicted in how to reconcile the myriad ‘versions’ labelled grounded theory and the advice of experienced qualitative researchers who espouse grounded theory from outside the classic methodology.

Rescuing the novice from methodological confusion appears to be the goal of two recent books on grounded theory methodology. From the perspective of the experienced classic grounded theorists who have reviewed the books for this issue, there is still some way to go in the rescue attempt. While Glaser has often commented that grounded theory is a simple methodology for developing conceptual theory, empirically grounded yet abstract of the descriptive detail of people, time and place, he has also been known to suggest that it is an elite methodology requiring maturity on the part of the researcher in the ability to stay open to emergence, to tolerate regression in the analytical phase and to resist the perhaps well-intended but fatal efforts of more experienced – but not classic grounded theory experienced – supervisors and collaborators. It takes confidence, creativity, tolerance and intention to stay the course when so many are bent on rescuing through “practical” and “accessible” guides that seek to simplify a cognitively elegant methodology.

Good advice from those who know and practice classic grounded theory can make all the difference in distinguishing classic grounded theory from the many remodelled versions and in clarifying novice confusion. Christensen’s methodological note on the literature review in classic grounded theory studies is a welcome response to the many questions on how to deal with the literature.

This issue is also my last as Editor of the Review. Beginning with my first issue in November 2004, I have had the privilege of seeing 21 issues come to life. This, of course, is only possible through the efforts of many individuals – authors, reviewers, and associate editors. To the many individuals who have been part of my learning journey in this role, I wish to offer my sincere thanks. I wish to offer a very special thanks to Barney Glaser for having the confidence in me to take on the role and for his continued support of the Review through Sociology Press.

I am delighted to announce that Astrid Gynnild will be guest editing the next issues. Astrid has served on the Peer Review Editorial Board since 2004, is an experienced classic grounded theorist and a frequent reviewer. Most recently, she has co-edited with Vivian Martin a new anthology of works on Barney Glaser and his legacy.

~ Judith Holton