some questions about data analyzing in grounded theory

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    selen devrim


    I’m very new to qualitative research. I’m more familiar with quantitative approach, yet in my PhD thesis in industrial product design, I am exploring the motivations behind car modifications, interactions between users and their cars, in short I’m exploring the social situations in car modification. I’ve decided to conduct my research using grounded theory, but I’m having trouble with the method.


    I’ve been reading articles and books on grounded theory and I was thinking that I got the point, but when I started analyzing my data, confusion also started. Articles and books are informative but give general information about the method. I looked for sample studies using GT, but these confused me more, because people are using the theory in their understanding and they differ in some ways from each other. I’m quite lost and confused. Therefore the questions that I asked may be absurd. But I would be very pleased if you can give me some advice.


    The problems that I’m facing with are:


    1-     What is difference between deciding the phenomenon in axial coding and deciding the core category in selective coding?


    “After open coding we chose the more apparent category as phenomenon”

     “Axial coding occurs where there is a strong focus on discovering codes around a single category”

     “The core category is the central phenomenon around which all the other categories are related”


    So the core category is always the phenomenon in axial coding.


    2-In my study the apparent category seems to be “uniqueness”. So if I choose it as the phenomenon and relate other categories to it, the “casual conditions” of the Paradigm Model becomes troubling, because the factors that cause or influence uniqueness didn’t emerged from my data, there isn’t any category for casual conditions. In fact the causal factors of uniqueness need a deeper psychological understanding, which is out of my expertise 🙂


    I know I am asking too specific questions but I believe anything you’ll say will be very helpful for me.


    Thank you





    Dr. Barry Chametzky


    I’m a novice with grounded theory also so I do understand your confusion.  Hopefully I can help you.  It appears that you might need to focus on which type of grounded theory you want to use: classic, constructivist, or some other remodeled version.  To mix modalities will result in confusion.

    With respect to the classic grounded theory method (CGTm), there is no axial coding because axiality (Can I use such a word?) presumes that you, the researcher, are preconceiving.  In CGTm, preconception is a bad thing.  However, with Strauss and Corbin (a remodeled version of gt), axial coding is valuable.  

    I cannot talk about Strauss and Corbin’s grounded theory as I only have basic (even peripheral) knowledge about that.  With CGTm, however, the researcher does not “chose the more apparent category” as that has the connotation of preconception.  With CGTm, codes are conceptualized and constantly compared (Glaser, 1965) in order to discover connections–no forcing of the data at all.  

    Without getting involved in theoretical semantics and pragmatics, if we look at your three statements in #1 above, you are (at a very general level) saying the same thing:  at some point in the data analysis, there is a central idea around which everything else focuses.

    I’m not able to comment on your #2 so will let other more experienced theorists comment.

    Glaser, B. (1965). The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Social Problems, 12(4), 436-445. Retrieved from 

    Barry Chametzky

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