From Darwin to constructivism: The evolution of grounded theory Academic Article uri icon


  • AIM: To explore the evolution of grounded theory and equip the reader with a greater understanding of the diverse conceptual positioning that is evident in the methodology. BACKGROUND: Grounded theory was developed during the modernist phase of research to develop theories that are derived from data and explain human interaction. Its philosophical foundations derive from symbolic interactionism and were influenced by a range of scholars including Charles Darwin and George Mead. DISCUSSION: Rather than a rigid set of rules and procedures, grounded theory is a way of conceptualising data. Researchers demonstrate a range of perspectives and there is significant variation in the way the methodology is interpreted and executed. Some grounded theorists continue to align closely with the original post-positivist view, while others take a more constructivist approach. Although the diverse interpretations accommodate flexibility, they may also result in confusion. CONCLUSION: The grounded theory approach enables researchers to align to their own particular world view and use methods that are flexible and practical. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE/RESEARCH: With an appreciation of the diverse philosophical approaches to grounded theory, researchers are enabled to use and appraise the methodology more effectively.

publication date

  • 2013