Closing Lecture 2011

Qualitative Research and Postmodernism: The Examples of Grounded Theory and Situational Analysis

Prof. Adele E. Clarke, Ph.D.

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco

Many critiques of grounded theory have been made since its inception in 1967, some of which remain lively today. This paper engages major points of debate and contestation and offers responses to them, including the injunction not to read the substantive literature, a framing of „negative cases,“ oversimplification, and the assertion that race/ethnicity, gender and class must „earn“ their way into an analysis. Since circa 1990, several different versions have been articulated by the second generation of grounded theorists and coalesced into positivist (Glaser/Stern), systematic (Strauss/Corbin), constructivist (Charmaz), and situationalist (Clarke) approaches. I describe these and offer my own critique of the conditional matrices used in the Strauss/Corbin versions of GT to situate the analysis. Last I lay out how situational analysis may offer some fresh pathways for researchers that take a wide array of these critiques into some account.