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The Qualitative Report

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Grounded Theory, Pragmatism


Recently, there have been calls for renewed attention to the roots of Grounded Theory in pragmatism, and this article continues that effort at both the theoretical and the procedural level. From a theoretical perspective, it counters the claim that pragmatism is compatible with a relativist epistemology, as claimed by advocates of Constructivist Grounded Theory, and argues instead for a cyclical process of inquiry that moves from beliefs to actions to consequences. At the procedural level, the article demonstrates four concrete principles so that pragmatism: replaces induction with abduction; emphasizes the importance of prior beliefs as starting points; treats theoretical sampling as action following earlier inquiry; and, justifies the importance of verification in developing theory. Overall, it demonstrates the value of pursuing a more fully pragmatic version of Grounded Theory.

David L. Morgan, PhD, is an emeritus professor of sociology at Portland State University, where he specializes in qualitative research and mixed methods research. He is best known for his work on focus groups. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to:


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