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Volume 22, No. 2, Art. 17 – May 2021

Grounded Duoethnography: A Dialogic Method for the Exploration of Intuition Through Divergence and Convergence

Brianna L. Kennedy & Hadass Moore

Abstract: Motivated by our respective intuition about our need for a place called "home," we engaged in methodological bricolage to study the concept. We draw upon methodological traditions of constructivist grounded theory methodology (CHARMAZ, 2006; CHARMAZ & KELLER, 2016) and duoethnography (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012) to envision and conduct a grounded duoethnography. Ultimately positioning the methodology within a constructivist paradigm, we nevertheless draw upon the complexities of postmodernism and poststructuralism, specifically as invoked in CLARKE's (2009, 2019) situational analysis and NORRIS and SAWYER's (2012) application of Bakhtinian dialogue to create a shared narrative through the exploration of the convergences and divergences of our experiences and expertise. Through these dialogues we identify core concepts related to "home." We elaborate on the background and application of this methodology and briefly describe an example to demonstrate how these concepts have sensitized us as scholars.

Key words: constructivist grounded theory methodology; duoethnography; qualitative methodology; bricolage; sensitizing concepts; grounded duoethnography

Table of Contents

1. Background

2. Foundations for a Grounded Duoethnography: An Overview of Grounded Theory Methodology and Methods

2.1 Traditional GTM

2.2 Constructivist GTM

2.3 Postmodern GTM

3. Foundations for Grounded Duoethnography: An Overview of Duoethnography Methodology and Methods

3.1 Roots in autoethnography

3.2 Duoethnography as methodology

4. Grounded Duoethnography As Method

4.1 Epistemology

4.2 Methods

5. An Example of Grounded Duoethnography in Use

5.1 Biographies

5.2 Data collection and analysis

5.3 How these concepts sensitized us: An illustration through the concept of nostalgia

6. Challenges and Conclusions






1. Background

The study reported in this article began when Brianna, a White, US-born associate professor transitioning to a university in the Netherlands, and Hadass, a Jewish Israeli transitioning back to Israel to pursue her academic career after obtaining a PhD in the US, met for the first time at a conference and engaged in a conversation about home. In our conversation, we realized that a sense of yearning for home affected each of us as we both made international moves. We had each encountered and drawn upon this sense of home in our respective fields as both practitioners and scholars. We had worked with individuals from marginalized social groups or in vulnerable social positions who sought the safety and belonging present in an ideal home and we focused on the development of these home experiences, Brianna as a teacher and education scholar and Hadass as a social worker and social work scholar. We realized that we seemed to share notions of the sense of "home" which we could define as a sort of shared intuitive understanding. However, a specific definition was difficult to articulate. [1]

When we examined existing literature about this sense of home, scholarly definitions focused on physical and emotional attachments; senses of predictability, privacy, and security; and autonomous control, which all resonated with us (BLUNT & DOWLING, 2006; BOCCAGNI & BALDASSAR, 2015; DUYVENDAK, 2011; MURPHY & LEVY, 2012). KUSEK and WISE's (2019) edited collection of narratives about the professional international mobility of human geography scholars provided insightful and critical stories of the relocation experiences often required in academia. In these narratives, we recognized professional and private dilemmas related to relocation and particularly appreciated the narrators' analyses of how power, privilege, and vulnerability all shaped the experience of professional mobility. However, we wondered how these analyses might be further sharpened by using a more directly comparative methodological approach. And perhaps more powerful in its primal nature, our need to make sense of our yearning for home—more specifically, our gut feelings about this need—were not quenched by this collection of stories. More remained to be discovered. [2]

BELFORD and LAHIRI-ROY (2019) engaged with this yearning in their autoethnographic study of their transnational migrations to Australia as women scholars from the Global South. In their autoethnographic narratives, they particularly addressed issues of positionality within the experience of professional mobility, which we recognized as relevant to us. These narratives each provided a powerful retelling of various aspects of professional mobility, transnationality, and identity. We sought a methodological approach that could broaden and deepen our own sense-making of deeply personal yearnings for home within the shared migration experience by directly engaging the similarities and differences between us from the macro to micro levels. We did not encounter such an approach in our reading. Thus we undertook a methodological development that could facilitate this work. [3]

In this article, we describe and illustrate the methodology we developed to study our intuitive understandings that were oriented to this notion of home. To conduct this investigation, we interpreted our roles as bricoleurs of qualitative methodology (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2005, p.4), as explorers and adapters of existing methodologies and methods with the goal of developing a methodological approach that could engage and expand our own personal and professional experiences. We sought self-positioning as scholars, subjects, and partners that could facilitate a collaborative processing of a phenomenon that we had previously related to as service providers with a focus on the lives of others but were now integrating into new phases of our own personal lives. We needed a methodology that could translate these intuitive feelings about home, a methodology that could serve as the choreography of the dance between individual and collective, knowledge and experience, personal and professional, past and future—a contribution to the self and a contribution to research and practice. [4]

We explain below how established approaches to inquiry helped us along the way and how we justify our development and application of grounded duoethnography methodology, which bricolages the philosophies and methods of constructivist grounded theory methodology (CHARMAZ, 2011), situational analysis (CLARKE, 2003, 2005, 2009), and duoethnography, which is itself a methodological bricolaging based on autoethnography and poststructuralism (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012). First, we give brief overviews of grounded theory and duoethnography methodologies, focusing specifically on the tenets and methods that we incorporated as part of our bricolaging. Next, we explain the epistemological foundation of grounded duoethnography, which draws upon, and responds to, constructivist grounded theory methodology, situational analysis, and duoethnography. Then, we describe and illustrate the methods using examples from our study. Finally, we discuss the challenges and possibilities for this approach. [5]

2. Foundations for a Grounded Duoethnography: An Overview of Grounded Theory Methodology and Methods

As we first began to discuss how we would study our notions of home, we wondered if we might be building a grounded theory, a theory of home grounded in the data generated by our conversations. We knew that a grounded theory would require ample data for theorizing, typically drawn from a sample larger than two. Nevertheless, we explored the roots of, and developments in, grounded theory methodology (GTM) to begin our project. [6]

2.1 Traditional GTM

As CHARMAZ (2011) pointed out in her description of GTM, the term "grounded theory" (GT) has been adopted and adapted in a host of ways, some of which having little resemblance to the original methodology or its core tenets. GLASER and STRAUSS (2006 [1967]) authored the foundational text of traditional GTM. Although GLASER and STRAUSS differed in their perspectives about the methodology (CLARKE, 2019; HEATH & COWLEY, 2004), this original work reflected the predominant scientific paradigm of its time by presuming a post-positivist epistemology. With a post-positivist epistemology, the researcher sought an objective stance from which to discover a theory in the data that could describe the workings of a phenomenon which would generalize across contexts. [7]

Despite, or perhaps as evidenced by, GLASER's (2002) diatribe refuting CHARMAZ's (2000) proposal for a constructivist GTM, the post-positivist roots of traditional GTM arguably came more from the scientific zeitgeist rather than from fundamental assertions inherent in the methodology itself (BRYANT & CHARMAZ, 2007). Although traditional grounded theorists inferred an objective position of the researcher, they shared intellectual roots in symbolic interactionism, which described the creation of meaning among actors in a social world (BLUMER, 1954; CLARKE, 2019; HEATH & COWLEY, 2004). Due to these roots as well as an underlying pragmatism, GTM has shown durability and adaptability to an evolving scientific paradigm (BRYANT & CHARMAZ, 2007; CHARMAZ & KELLER, 2016; CLARKE, 2003, 2019; HEATH & COWLEY, 2004; HOLTON, 2007). As a philosophy, pragmatism focuses attention on the phenomenon or dilemma under study and promotes the uses of methodological approaches and methods that can best address the phenomenon (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2018; ROSIEK, 2013). [8]

In his continued methodological work with CORBIN, STRAUSS' philosophical roots directly influenced GTM's development. As MILLS, CHAPMAN, BONNER and FRANCIS (2007) explained:

"Strauss' history as a relativist, pragmatist and symbolic interactionist shaped his agenda for evolving grounded theory, as a methodology and as a method, particularly with the development of the conditional matrix as a way of situating action at the centre of his analyses" (p.74). [9]

STRAUSS and CORBIN's (2008 [1990]) work shifted traditional GTM's positioning of the researcher as objective and unbiased and the resulting theory as discoverable and generalizable. By foregrounding the researcher's involvement in, and construction of, data collection and analyses, STRAUSS and CORBIN pushed GTM from an objectivist to a constructionist epistemological starting point, resulting in an interpretive, rather than a post-positivist, research paradigm (CLARKE, 2019; MILLS et al., 2007). [10]

The methodological tools of traditional GTM included an iterative data collection and analysis process driven by the goal of accurate theory development through the saturation of data (GLASER & STRAUSS, 2006 [1967]; STRAUSS & CORBIN, 2008). Data collection relied upon theoretical sampling, meaning that the sample and protocols for each round of data collection were determined according to which parts of the emerging codes, categories, and themes required further data for clarification. STRAUSS and CORBIN (2008 [1990]) were the first to define and explain detailed steps to guide an iterative analytical process that entailed open, axial, and selective coding (CLARKE, 2019). During the data collection and analysis process, the researcher made extensive use of diagrams, matrices, and memos to develop and deepen ideas about the data. This process resulted in a GT that identified the antecedents of a phenomenon, usually an action or process, a description of the phenomenon itself, intervening factors that shaped the phenomenon as it unfolded, and consequences of the phenomenon (STRAUSS & CORBIN, 2008 [1990]). [11]

2.2 Constructivist GTM

CHARMAZ's (2011) subsequent work developing constructivist GTM and methods more firmly planted GTM within a constructionist epistemology and interpretive research paradigm. MILLS et al. (2007, p.74) explained: "Constructivist grounded theory reflects the basic beliefs of constructivism as a paradigm of inquiry. Ontologically relativist, epistemologically transactional, methodologically dialectical, the researcher is a 'passionate participant as facilitator of multi-voice reconstruction' (Lincoln & Guba, 2005, p.196)." While STRAUSS and CORBIN (2008 [1990]) implied an interpretive role for the analyst, CHARMAZ (2011) explicitly positioned the researcher as an active and integral part of the research process. In an example of constructivist GTM in which she used an existing data set to demonstrate elements of GTM, she said of the analysis: "Other qualitative researchers or grounded theorists might stress other areas of significance. My analysis rests on an interpretive rendering of key points in the data, rather than an objective report" (p.174). Here, CHARMAZ described herself as interpreter of data, rather than objective reporter, and claimed not that she had arrived at an objective truth or a context-independent generalizable theory at the conclusion of analysis, but rather that she had co-constructed with the data a theory that provided a justifiable description of a situated and context-dependent phenomenon. [12]

CHARMAZ (2011) illustrated how the role of the researcher and the truth claims made about the resulting GT shifted along with scientific mores regarding what counts as credible research and evidence (CLARKE, 2019) (as demonstrated by the evolution in FQS from GLASER's [2002] protest to constructivist GTM to CHARMAZ and KELLER's [2016] interview that further explains and justifies this approach.) CHARMAZ (2011) described an additional shift in how these tenets might be viewed from a constructivist paradigm, more as flexible tools than required steps—a position congruent with GLASER's (1998) original perspectives about methods (HOLTON, 2007)—which also speaks to the pragmatic leanings of GTM. Nevertheless, core tenets of the methodology remained and persisted through the postmodern turn in qualitative research. [13]

2.3 Postmodern GTM

CLARKE's (2003) explanation of the evolution of GTM toward alignment with postmodern research paradigms described how GTM's pragmatic and symbolic interactionist roots positioned it as an adaptable methodology. CLARKE emphasized postmodernism's impact on social science research as one that increased the methodology's usefulness in capturing the complexity of social life. She stated: "If modernism emphasized universality, generalization, simplification, permanence, stability, wholeness, rationality, regularity, homogeneity, and sufficiency, then postmodernism has shifted emphases to localities, partialities, positionalities, complications, tenuousness, instabilities, irregularities, contradictions, heterogeneities, situatedness, and fragmentation—complexities" (p.555). CLARKE presented a methodological tool to GT analysis called situational analysis to assist the analyst in capturing complexity and focusing on the role of Foucauldian discourse in the topic under study. A critical distinction between constructivist grounded theory and CLARKE's postmodern situational analysis is its focus on a situation as the phenomenon rather than a social interaction or process, which allows for a "thick analysis" (2005, p.xxiii) that accounts for the scalar nesting, multi-/non-linear causalities, and complexities addressed by a postmodern research paradigm. [14]

Situational analysis consists of producing a sequence of three types of maps—situational maps, maps of social worlds, and maps focused on relationality and positionality—to address layers and concepts of a phenomenon or of additional factors that affect a phenomenon. This analysis brings grounded theory around the postmodern turn because, unlike versions of grounded theory analysis informed by other research paradigms, these maps: 1. allow for multiple interrelationships and concurrent causalities among a variety of relevant issues related to the phenomenon without promoting the linearity of one process or producing false distinctions between macro-, meso-, and micro-level factors; and 2. suggest the role of discourse in the vocalizations, silences, connections, and disconnections among issues and data sources relevant to the topic under study (CLARKE, 2009; MILLS et al., 2007). [15]

In adapting CLARKE's (2005) situational analysis to a grounded theory study of the perspectives of rural Australian nurses, MILLS et al. (2007) grappled with the application of a postmodern GTM and methods. From their social constructivist research paradigm, they foregrounded human consciousness and agency in constructing shared understandings of rural nursing. They described how their epistemological beliefs limited the usefulness of CLARKE's positional maps in their analysis. They explained:

"Foucauldian scholars understand individuals to be constructed of and through discourse. '[F]ormal knowledges emerge from savoir, which is not logical or rational, and...this process of emergence does not have a guiding or agentic subject at its center' (Scheurich & Mckenzie, 2005, p.848). Constructivist scholars differ on this notion of agency 'tak[ing] their primary field of interest to be precisely that subjective and intersubjective social knowledge by human agents that is produced by human consciousness' (Lincoln & Guba, 2005, p.203)" (MILLS et al., 2007, p.75). [16]

To maintain their epistemological beliefs, MILLS et al. drew upon BENFORD and SNOW's (2000) collective action framing, an analytical tool based on GOFFMAN's (1974) frame analysis, in lieu of CLARKE's positional maps to examine how participants had constructed their understandings of rural nursing. Frame analysis also enables the analyst to identify how an individual's context, including discourse, shapes that individual's understanding and sense-making in a given situation, but the individual is placed at the center of the analysis and positioned as having agency. GOFFMAN's conceptual framework lends itself to a methodological bricolaging that encompasses foci on structure, culture, and agency (GIDDENS, 1984). Such a philosophically pragmatic bricolaging could adopt CLARKE's (2005) strategies of examining institutional influences, presences, and silences (i.e., human and non-human elements), along with MILLS et al.'s (2007) social constructionist epistemology that views the individual as agentive in experiencing and responding to these discursive presences and silences. [17]

3. Foundations for Grounded Duoethnography: An Overview of Duoethnography Methodology and Methods

The conceptualization of a version of GTM that could address postmodern complexity while staying true to our constructionist epistemological beliefs held promise. However, we doubted that grounded theory sampling and analysis could as effectively facilitate our exchanges with each other, existing literature, and our unfolding experiences of "home" as could a methodology that would allow us to journey both deeply and broadly within our own experiences. So, keeping our exploration of GTM in mind, we turned our attention to duoethnography methodology. [18]

3.1 Roots in autoethnography

The development of duoethnography as a methodology followed a rise in popularity of autoethnography, a methodology that adapts an ethnographic focus outward toward shared cultural phenomena to an inward focus on the role of these phenomena in a particular experience or phase in one's own life (CHANG, 2008; ELLIS, 2004). Autoethnography adopts from the literary genre of autobiography a focus on one's own life experiences and a retelling of those experiences from a first-person perspective based on personal priorities, values, and goals (DAVIS & ELLIS, 2008). Autoethnography differs from autobiography both in focus and in method. CHANG (2008) explained: "Like ethnography, autoethnography pursues the ultimate goal of cultural understanding underlying autobiographical experiences" (p.49). The method of autoethnography differs from autobiography in its use of critical lenses that interrogate, rather than retell, the writers' positionality, often leading the authors to new insights about themselves as part of the research process (CHANG, 2008; ELLIS, ADAMS & BOCHNER, 2011). An autoethnographer engages in a dual role of researcher and participant whereas an autobiographer tells a life story. According to ELLIS (1998),

"[a]utoethnography blurs distinctions between social science and literature, the personal and the social, the individual and culture, self and other, and researcher and subject. Here authors occupy dual interactive roles of researcher and research participant; when others participate, authority is shared to the extent feasible. Autoethnography emphasizes what is heard and felt as much as what is seen. The focus is on emotional and bodily knowledge, as well as cognitive perception; knowledge comes through direct participation as well as observation; recognition involves the interplay between observer and observed; and understanding requires a reflection inward as well as observation outward ..." (p.49). [19]

The focus of an autoethnography can be a broad range of phenomena but typically addresses an issue that also receives attention from scholars using other methodological approaches in the social sciences, such as sexual identity (e.g., DENT, 2002), illness (e.g., TILLMANN-HEALY, 1996), or loss (e.g., ELLIS, 1995). Autoethnographic methods range widely but might include self-observation, reflective writing, and the use of personal and/or cultural artifacts (CHANG, 2008). [20]

As a methodology, autoethnography can include the production of "co-constructed narratives, which refer to tales jointly constructed by relational partners about an epiphanal event in their lives" (ELLIS, 1998, p.50). In these cases, the solo endeavor denoted by the prefix "auto-" in autoethnography broadens to include the experiences of another who participates in the production and analysis of a shared life event. Such a partnership results in a shared narrative, which may include multiple voices and positions regarding salient themes in the narrative. [21]

3.2 Duoethnography as methodology

Duoethnography shares with co-narrative autoethnography the inclusion of multiple researcher/participants in the systematic, critical exploration of a topic experienced by each of the researcher/participants. In duoethnography, the focus is on the topic and each researcher/participant is positioned as a site for the research that can be more deeply understood as well as transformed through the research process (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012). NORRIS and SAWYER stated: "[Duoethnographers] use themselves to assist themselves and others in better understanding the phenomenon under investigation" (p.13). Duoethnography also shares autoethnography's emphasis on the role of emotional and bodily knowledge holistically accrued through all of the senses in the research. However, in contrast to a co-constructed narrative in which the focus is on the shared narrative of an event, a duoethnography presents two distinct voices, perspectives, and positionalities in conversation with each other and does not typically focus on a shared experience bounded in time and space (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012). [22]

This difference between autoethnography and duoethnography reflects duoethnography's poststructural epistemological roots (ibid.), which emphasize and prioritize "polyvocality" (p.13) and the "disruption of metanarratives" (p.15). Two researcher/participants explore a phenomenon through critical dialogues in which each participant's understandings are broadened and deepened. As sites of inquiry for the research process, both autoethnographers and duoethnographers develop new insights as part of the research. Duoethnography further prioritizes this evolution by placing the focus of the research on the development of the researcher/participants themselves (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012). The final product of many duoethnographies represent these distinct voices in a "multivoiced and critical tension" (p.13) and invite the reader to navigate those tensions in the text (for example, see KIDD & FINLAYSON, 2015; OLT & TEMAN, 2018). The researcher/participants do not resolve those tensions by creating a cohesive shared narrative for the reader as do the authors of co-narrative autoethnographies. [23]

Like autoethnographers, duoethnographers can be individuals who want to bring a critical lens to deepening their self-understanding regarding a particular topic. Duoethnographers who share this goal may employ the methods of autoethnography, such as reflective writing and the use of personal and/or cultural artifacts, to engage in the primary method of duoethnography: dialogue. Through dialogue, duoethnographers challenge each other's views and deepen each other's understandings of the topic and of themselves. Duoethnography draws upon LEVINAS' (1984) assertion that individuals need others to truly know and develop themselves in that: "Each duoethnographer becomes the foil for the Other, challenging the Other to reflect on their own life in a deeper, more relational, and authentic manner" (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012, p.10). The duoethnographers should differ from each other in a significant way that is related to the topic under investigation. NORRIS and SAWYER explained, "[t]hrough the articulation of such differences, duoethnographers make explicit how different people can experience the same phenomenon differently" (p.17). However, duoethnographers also must share a high level of trust in order to engage in the self-disclosure that leads to deepened understandings and transformation. [24]

4. Grounded Duoethnography As Method

Our exploration of duoethnography indicated that this methodology matched some of our goals and beliefs, but the challenge faced by MILLS et al. (2007) to adapt a post- epistemology to their constructionist beliefs resonated with us. So, we entered the next phase of our methodological bricolaging to address our research phenomenon. Table 1 gives an overview of grounded duoethnography by comparing and contrasting it to constructivist grounded theory and duoethnography. We elaborate on the elements of research design listed in the rows of Table 1.

Table 1: Comparison of elements of research design across methodologies. Click here to download the PDF file. [25]

4.1 Epistemology

Aligning our foundational assertions closely with MILLS et al.'s (2007) description of constructivist grounded theory quoted above, we adopted an ontological relativism, meaning that, like CHARMAZ's (2011) description of her own analysis, we assert that our individual positionalities and experiences differ from each other and also shape the research process and findings in ways that would be different if completed by others. We engaged our distinct positionalities, with both their similarities and differences, as justifications for why we were an adequate "sample" for a duoethnographic study. Our different nationalities, home languages, work experiences, and areas of expertise drove and deepened our dialogue to generate findings, as described by the founders of duoethnography (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012), whereas our similarities as academics who lived in the same city for a time and shared priorities and values allowed us to have the trust necessary for dialogue to occur and to better understand each other's perspectives. We drew upon duoethnography's positioning of the individual's experiences and positionalities as sufficient for generating insights and information that has contextually relevant veracity and transformative potential. [26]

The focus of a duoethnography is the evolution of the understandings of the researcher/participants, placing the truth claims regarding specific experiences and insights about the topic in a secondary role and positioning the reader as the third voice that then develops and deepens their own understanding in response to tensions and resolutions that emerge in each duoethnographer's text. Whereas the poststructural paradigm of duoethnography supports the articulation of two voices in side-by-side texts as a final product, the research paradigm of grounded duoethnography enabled us to push toward coherence in the identification of shared conceptions regarding the topic under study. That is because the epistemology of grounded duoethnography is transactional (MILLS et al., 2007). [27]

While grounded duoethnography has a relativist ontology, this methodology reflects an epistemological foundation that positions knowledge as a byproduct of interactions and transactions among individuals and between individuals and their social, cultural, and natural contexts. Hence, the convergences and divergences in our individual experiences and understandings as duoethnographic researcher/participants provided material, or data, for deepening and broadening our individual knowledge and conceptions and inductively constructing shared knowledge about the topic of inquiry. In this process, we documented and explored both our convergences and divergences, interrogating their origins and what those origins could further reveal about our positionalities, and thereby about the topic itself. [28]

Unlike the final product of duoethnography—dual texts—the final product of a grounded duoethnography is a shared conceptualization of the topic, which builds upon the divergences that emerged during data collection and analysis. The identification and articulation of those divergences are also agreed upon and presented as a shared perspective. This product departs from duoethnography's poststructural commitment not to produce a metanarrative, a departure warranted by the different epistemologies of the two methodologies. Nevertheless, grounded duoethnography centers the worldview shared by both constructivist grounded theory and duoethnography that individual experiences are critical to motivating and conducting research. [29]

4.2 Methods

Continuing with MILLS et al.'s (2007) description of the underpinnings of constructivist grounded theory, grounded duoethnography has a dialectical method. The researcher/participants begin with a topic in mind and explore that topic through iterative rounds of data collection and analysis, using the foundations of the methodology to guide specific research design choices. Insights, questions, and divergences fuel methodological discussions and decision-making. In this section, we discuss basic principles of grounded duoethnography methods followed by an example of how we developed the methodology to support our inquiry into the concept of home. [30]

4.2.1 The roles of theory and research literature

Grounded duoethnography positions the uses of theory and literature in a manner shared by many grounded theorists and duoethnographers. In each of these methodologies, theory and literature can play supportive roles in sensitizing the researcher to different aspects of the topic or different directions in data collection and analysis. Grounded theorists differ in their perspectives regarding the role of a literature review in grounded theory but share the prioritization of empirical encounters in shaping findings (DUNNE, 2011; THORNBERG, 2012). Literature can support the iterative data collection and analysis process in that analysts can consult literature as questions arise in order to shape subsequent phases of the research (CHARMAZ, 2006). Similarly, in duoethnography, researcher/participants consult literature when the dialogue or analysis suggests that it might be useful. NORRIS and SAWYER (2012) explained, "[t]he literature then is regarded as another partner in the conversation and provides additional perspectives beyond those of the duoethnographers themselves" (p.34). Theory and literature also play a role in grounded duoethnography as researcher/participants synthesize their findings with existing scholarship and explore their implications. This role of theory and literature resonates with all strands of grounded theory but not with duoethnography due to its philosophical position not to produce metanarratives. Grounded duoethnography's dialectical method engages the researcher/participants in acts of discussion and synthesis both with each other's perspectives and experiences as well as with additional artifacts, including theoretical and empirical literature. This method aligns with GTM's positioning of literature. [31]

4.2.2 Sampling

As in duoethnography, in grounded duoethnography, the researcher/participants constitute the purposeful "sample" due to their positionalities, interests, and differing social and cultural contexts (NORRIS & SAWYER, 2012). In contrast to constructivist grounded theory, grounded duoethnography requires no sampling of additional participants. Instead, the focus on an individual's life as a curriculum that provides ample material for dialogue and discussion justifies a sample of two. The theoretical sampling promoted in grounded theory is achieved in grounded duoethnography through a deepening spiral of dialogue between the two researcher/participants which explores new questions that arise or further explores stories and subtopics mentioned in previous dialogues. Additionally, the researcher/participants can use literature and artifacts to explore concepts that do not achieve saturation with dialogue alone. In keeping with its social constructivist roots, grounded duoethnography positions the researcher/participants as agentive, consciously co-constructing data, analysis, and findings (MILLS et al., 2007). Through dialogue, researcher/participants also explore the roles of both human and non-human elements, including discourse, in their experiences and conceptualizations. In this way, grounded duoethnography draws upon GOFFMAN's (1974) frame analysis but stops short of adopting Foucault's description of the non-agentive individual as defined by discourse. [32]

4.2.3 Iterative data collection and analysis

The primary method of data collection in grounded duoethnography is based on duoethnographic dialogue. NORRIS and SAWYER (2012) stated, "[d]ialogue within duoethnography functions as a mediating device to promote researchers' development of higher forms of consciousness" (p.13). Dialogues are unstructured conversations based on guiding questions that unearth both conscious and subconscious convergences and divergences between the experiences, opinions, and knowledge of the researcher/participants. Grounded duoethnographic dialogues differ from classic duoethnographic dialogues in that the focus is on the development of a shared conceptualization and findings, similar to all strands of grounded theory. To facilitate the crafting of a shared narrative, participants may use a protocol or conversation guide that offers more structure than that contained in a duoethnographic dialogue. Divergences are documented, explored, and deepened in ultimate service of a converging understanding of the topic. [33]

As research and dialogue partners, the researcher/participants collaboratively determine each stage of data collection and analysis by discussing the particular methods required at each step of their project. Decisions are justified according to epistemological and methodological principles. Analysis occurs between each dialogue or set of dialogues and researcher/participants decide on subsequent topics for dialogues as they conduct and discuss the analysis. Appropriate tools for analysis include, but are not limited to, coding procedures described by CHARMAZ (2006, 2011) and STRAUSS and CORBIN (2008 [1990]), and mapping strategies described by CLARKE (2005). [34]

These tools must be adapted according to the methodology of grounded duoethnography, which particularly requires adjustments with regard to grounded theory's theoretical sampling and CLARKE's (2005) positional maps. Sampling of additional participants is not conducted in grounded duoethnography since the intimacy of the duo is critical to facilitating the identification and development of insights. However, the focus of subsequent dialogues within the duo can target un- or under-explored issues. Since dialogues focus on gaps in the data, selective coding becomes unnecessary. The use of diagrams and maps can broaden and deepen the analysis. Diagramming is an established tool in grounded theory (KENNEDY & THORNBERG, 2014; STRAUSS & CORBIN, 2008 [1990]). [35]

CLARKE's (2005) situational analysis and the mapping tools it uses particularly seek to capture the complexity addressed in postmodern paradigms, which is also consistent with social constructivist paradigms. The exception regards the role of Foucauldian discourse in the analysis. Although CLARKE (2003) argued that STRAUSS and CORBIN's (2008 [1990]) conditional matrices were inadequate for handling postmodern complexities, an analyst's pursuit of consistency with the foundations of grounded duoethnography would not be challenged by the use of these diagrams or other tools such as implementations of GOFFMAN's (1974) frame analysis as discussed by MILLS et al. (2007). A primary consideration is that the desired outcome is not a grounded theory, or thick description of a situation, but rather a broad and deep exploration of a topic as experienced by the researcher/participants. Thus, grounded theory methods offer useful tools for analysis and do lead to a co-constructed product as in traditional and constructivist grounded theory, but the product shows the convergences and divergences on the topic produced through dialogue as in duoethnography. Tools used for analysis should allow the researcher/participants the flexibility necessary to pursue this outcome. In short, researcher/participants draw upon duoethnographic data collection methods and grounded theory data analysis methods. They use these methods iteratively, as in both duoethnography and grounded theory. [36]

4.2.4 Trustworthiness and truth claims

The researcher/participants investigate how their experiences relate to their understanding of the concept and build a grounded conceptualization that contains their shared and divergent perceptions. Rather than asserting generalizability, the researcher/participants position the results as findings that describe their bounded experiences and can inform further work. The products of a grounded duoethnography address not only the researcher/participants' converging perspectives on the topic but also document divergences as well as other human and nonhuman elements that shape the topic at the macro-, meso-, and micro- levels. The products are not intended to be comprehensive descriptions of the topic broadly but rather comprehensive descriptions of the researcher/participants' experiences and understandings of the topic. While these products will certainly not yield the same results as a grounded theory study would with its larger sample size, the methodology makes possible the depth and nuance that could lead to an understanding that might not be reached with grounded theory. [37]

NORRIS and SAWYER (2012) employed BAKHTIN's (1981 [1975]) definition of truth in discussing the truth claims of duoethnography. They explained that BAKHTIN defined truth as a production of dialogue among people rather than of reason within individuals. In duoethnography methodology, the stories generated in the context of dialogue are viewed as temporary constructions that move the researcher/participants to deeper levels of self-understanding and conscientization, the ultimate goals of duoethnography. In grounded duoethnography, the researcher/participants value the deepening of their self-understanding while asserting that outcomes of their dialogues can and should apply to self-identified readers. They seek a thick analysis of the topic of inquiry that can be taken up by others in policy, research, and practice, a goal shared with grounded theorists. Such an analysis results in the production of sensitizing concepts, a term first used by BLUMER (1954) to describe ideas that point the researcher in a certain direction during decision-making regarding research design, data collection, and analysis. CLARKE (2003) positioned her work in grounded theory as "generating sensitizing concepts and theoretical integration toward provocative yet provisional grounded theorizing rather than the development of substantive and formal theories as the ultimate goals" (p.559). Grounded duoethnography generates sensitizing concepts related to the topic of inquiry, which, due to grounded duoethnography's focus on critical self-reflection, first and foremost sensitize the researcher/participants themselves. [38]

These sensitizing concepts are not viewed as absolute truths or subject to tests of validity or reliability. Rather, the quality of the concepts is increased through the transparency of the research process, the depth and breadth of the dialogues and analysis, and the usefulness of the concepts to the researcher/participants as well as reflective others. Grounded duoethnography draws upon its pragmatic roots with regard to assessing the quality of projects while keeping the duoethnographic goal of conscientization as a guiding value. That means that the usefulness of the findings in deepening self-awareness, leading to critical insights, or furthering the public good determines their quality. Thus, unlike in duoethnography where the reader is positioned as the third voice in the research, the reader in grounded duoethnography is positioned as a determiner of quality by way of the project's usefulness to the reader's own context and work. In making transparent their own sensitization and how their self-awareness has been deepened through the grounded duoethnographic process, the researcher/participants also contribute to the establishment of trustworthiness. These two measures of trustworthiness echo STAKE's (1995) "naturalistic generalization" (p.85), in which the study provides one source of input that then becomes consciously or subconsciously synthesized with one's own life experiences or context-based needs in order to produce new understandings or approaches to a particular situation or dilemma. Naturalistic generalization reflects a constructionist epistemology and a social constructivist paradigm by positioning the reader as the constructor of relevance, and thereby trustworthiness. [39]

5. An Example of Grounded Duoethnography in Use

As described above, we developed grounded duoethnography methodology to study our yearnings for home amidst our transnational moves as academics (for a full description of findings, see KENNEDY & MOORE, 2021). We identified ourselves as appropriate researcher/participants in this process due to our past and current personal and professional circumstances. We each had relevant individual experiences that also differed from the other in ways that could produce new insights. Personally, we had each just made international moves from the US, which was home to one of us but not the other, and were creating new homes of our own, one of us in a country that felt like home and the other in a completely foreign land. Professionally, we both had worked as practitioners—Brianna as a teacher, Hadass as a social worker—and had developed "practitioner judgment" (POLKINGHORNE, 2004, p.151) regarding our students'/clients' needs for spaces of home and how to provide those. We occupied intersectional identities that positioned us as holding social, economic, and political power and vulnerabilities in both similar and different ways. We focused on these similarities and differences in exploring our intuition about a place called home, comparing and contrasting our experiences from past to present to future. With our transnational relocations as the impetus for the inquiry, we developed grounded duoethnography's methodology and relied upon this methodology to create a specific set of steps appropriate to our topic and process (see Table 2). [40]

5.1 Biographies

We present brief biographical narratives here in order to contextualize the examples from our study that follow. [41]

5.1.1 Brianna's biography

Brianna identifies as a White, female US citizen from a middle class family who grew up in a diversifying Southern California suburb. Her ethnically and socioeconomically mixed public schools exposed her to cultural differences and gave her some rudimentary skills and dispositions necessary to navigate across sociodemographic differences despite her family's subtle racist views. Brianna grew up as an only child in an isolated and lonely household. She left her parents' home for college at age 17 and moved to Los Angeles for graduate school at age 21. During the decade she lived in Los Angeles, Brianna formed her closest attachments to "home," adopting her first dog, Quincy, and frequenting a landmark municipal park. However, the tenure-track position she was offered after graduation motivated her first national move to Florida. Brianna underestimated how powerful the cultural differences between Southern California and northern Florida would feel, how these cultural differences would permeate the organizational culture, and how much these differences would contribute to her never quite feeling at home. Although Brianna proudly received tenure and promotion, she decided to make an international move when offered a position at a research institution in the Netherlands. This study was undertaken as Brianna worked to create a home as an academic immigrant in Europe. [42]

5.1.2 Hadass' biography

Hadass identifies as a Mizrachi-Ashkenazi Jewish female Israeli citizen from a middle-class family, who grew up in Tel-Aviv. Her mother was born in Iraq and her father was born in England. She grew up with two different, and at times conflicting, cultures—a Middle Eastern (Jewish Mizrachi) heritage versus a more Eurocentric (Ashkenazi) heritage. Despite the differences between the two sides, the Jewish tradition and the view of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people, was a narrative she grew up with through her parents' immigration stories, but also through the various socialization agents in Israel. While obtaining her Master's degree in Social Work she was offered the opportunity to study in Cleveland, the first time Hadass had lived abroad. She was exposed to mid-west American culture and academia. It was also the first time she had lived at such a distance from her family and from Israel. The experience in Cleveland led Hadass to pursue her PhD in Social Work in Los Angeles, where she was able to focus on her work with homeless students and learn more about living outside of her home country, and working and writing in a language that is not her native tongue. During the time that this study took place, Hadass had moved back to Israel after 6 years of living almost exclusively in the US. [43]

5.2 Data collection and analysis

To begin to understand our notions of home, we designed an iterative data collection and analysis cycle that included structured dialogues for data collection as well as conversations about analysis, called method chats, in between the structured dialogues (see Table 2). After an initial unstructured dialogue in which we discussed the guiding question of what brought us each to this project, we individually re-read the transcript and created maps using CLARKE (2005) as a guide. In our subsequent method chats, we distinguished between concepts that described our experiences of home and elements that shaped our experiences of these concepts. We identified the following six concepts in our shared description of the construct of home: safety, attachment, childhood, familiarity, nostalgia, and hope. We also developed a list of elements that appeared in our dialogue which seemed to shape our understandings and feelings about home. We then explored each of the six concepts in its own dialogue where we discussed convergences and divergences in our experiences and knowledge. In subsequent analysis, we coded each of the dialogues using our code book of elements, eliminating those that did not continue to appear in significant or repeated ways in our dialogues. Our final list of elements included: capitalism, citizenship, generational gap, immigration, individualism, nationalism, ownership, positionality, privilege, reflexivity, and social violence.

Table 2: Documentation of iterative data collection and analysis process. Click here to download the PDF file. [44]

5.3 How these concepts sensitized us: An illustration through the concept of nostalgia

While a complete description of our findings is beyond the scope of this methodological article, we trace the evolution and impact of the concept of nostalgia through our grounded duoethnography in this section in order to illustrate the importance of our hybrid methodology. In this example, we first demonstrate the areas where we converged and diverged in our experiences as discussed and developed in our dialogues. Next, we discuss the role the literature played in our exploration of the concepts. Then, we present an abridged version of our shared narrative related to nostalgia based on our dialogues. Finally, we describe how the concept of nostalgia sensitized us in relation to our research fields. [45]

5.3.1 The role of divergences and convergences using the example of nostalgia

To more specifically map where we converged and diverged on each of the six concepts related to the overarching concept of home, we created Venn Diagrams. These Venn Diagrams assisted us in writing a shared narrative about each of the concepts by giving us examples to incorporate into sub-themes which described each concept. In the Venn Diagram for nostalgia, we listed the following divergences: [46] Divergences: Brianna only Divergences: Hadass only Convergences: Brianna and Hadass

5.3.2 The role of literature

As we discussed each concept and element, we found that at times we extrapolated about our beliefs and ideas beyond our experiences. In those cases, we examined research literature to better ground and position the ideas. In the example narrative of nostalgia below, we synthesized literature regarding definitions of nostalgia and connections between the micro (i.e., DUYVENDAK, 2011) and macro (i.e., BERTOLETTI, 2010) levels of expressions of nostalgia. [50]

5.3.3 (Abridged) shared narrative about the concept of nostalgia

Nostalgia is not a feeling or experience that occurs at home, but a way in which we think, remember, and feel about home in retrospect. We defined nostalgia as a sweet, slightly aching connection with something that used to be, but that we may remember as more pleasant than it was. In our dialogues we noted that nostalgia may fill a gap between real past experiences of home and the idealized home by highlighting and sweetening positive experiences while downplaying or erasing negative ones (DUYVENDAK, 2011). Moreover, it may be related to an experience or feeling that was not there in "real time." [51]

In our dialogues we discussed the role of capitalist commodification in encouraging those collective and individual nostalgic feelings, such as the sale of decorations with slogans like "no place like home," or "home sweet home." Commodification of nostalgia promotes the concept of an ideal home despite many people's difficult realities of home (BERTOLETTI, 2010). We recognized the power of the commodified version of home in our desires to develop our own homes and believe that it resonates with an internal sense of home. Yet we also took a balanced view of the ideal versus the real home in our own stories about our pasts. [52]

5.3.4 Nostalgia as a sensitizing concept

One primary objective of grounded duoethnography is to produce sensitizing concepts with contextually relevant veracity and transformative potential. In this subsection, we present evidence of how our understandings of the concepts have undergone shifts that directly relate to our current work as scholars. We both had thought about "home" before, but the process of defining and discussing it through examples from our lives while examining divergences and convergences as well as connecting with the existing literature has led us to several realizations that we can immediately apply to our research and practice. We describe these conceptual shifts as nuanced and attributable to the depth of the dialogues. We write these subsections in the first person in order to reflect on our individual processes. [53] Brianna

Talking and reading more about the commodification of home highlighted for me the powerful pull of the notion of an ideal home. What gets sold in decorations is the public display of having something that everyone wants, a place that is warm and safe. But the presence of the decoration claiming "home sweet home" is a proxy for circumstances that may or may not exist in that space: that the people who live there feel warm and safe. Nostalgia is a sort of unrealistic conferral of claims about spaces and experiences that we want to be true even if they are not completely true. Nostalgia sells because of the universal appeal of the emotional security it represents. [54]

Kids in classrooms come from a diverse set of living arrangements that may or may not feel like "home sweet home." Our dialogues made me more attuned to how much children need and desire these feelings, and also how motivated they might be to pretend that these circumstances exist or to hide circumstances that do not align with this commodified version of home. Understanding the double bind created in children trying to manage homes that may not feel like "home sweet home" while also hiding the undesirability of their homes because they feel pressured by commodified nostalgia to do so makes me a more astute researcher and educator. This understanding sensitizes me to read nuances in classroom situations specifically with children who behave in unpredicted ways; to know which follow-up questions to ask during interviews and observations; and to coach teachers to ask insightful questions about children's behavior that might be attributable to this double bind, and to create warm and safe classroom settings. [55] Hadass

Nostalgia is a feeling I had thought about often, as it played a major role in my personal life. The most significant understanding for me was related to the "ownership" of nostalgia. I often thought about nostalgia as a self-created narrative that aims to serve us best as individuals, to tell the story in a more positive way than the way events actually took place in order to be able to live with past difficult realities. I also thought that these self-created narratives may take place on the national level, that is, that a national story will be shaped in a way that encourages "longing for what was" in order to serve a national goal. Through the dialogues with Brianna, I was able to consider the commodification of home and the role of structural capitalist forces which shape and maintain this shared feeling about home. [56]

While thinking about my research and practice with people who experience homelessness, this realization has added another layer to their intersectional experiences. In addition to lacking housing, they also may feel nostalgic for a home or experiences that did not happen, which can result in emotional and instrumental challenges. It allowed me to adapt a more structural view rather than an individualistic one about the role of nostalgia: viewing commodification as another structural power that may serve as an obstacle in achieving home as it creates an illusion of a home that does not exist. This has sensitized me as a researcher in particular. For instance, in my research with homeless young women, the gap between the real and ideal home comes up frequently. The literature often attributed this gap to individualistic reasons. But through this project, I have considered how nostalgic feelings may also be related to capitalism, a macro level factor that should be addressed and deconstructed. [57]

6. Challenges and Conclusions

We faced several challenges that grounded duoethnographic partners may want to consider as they undertake a project. Primarily, we noted that some of the very factors that provided productive divergence also produced challenges that required navigation. Those included: being at different career stages and facing different levels of tenure-related pressures as a result; residing in different cultures and countries with different work weeks and holidays; and having different levels of knowledge and comfort with experimental qualitative research. We also noted challenges related to determining next steps to best generate findings. Finally, we grappled with the balance between portraying our experiences, respecting the anonymity of others involved in those experiences, and conveying potentially controversial opinions. Nevertheless, we did navigate these challenges in ways that allowed us to identify and define sensitizing concepts that collectively compose our intuitive feelings about, and understanding of, home which at the beginning of the study seemed both elusively vague and intimately familiar to us. These sensitizing concepts might now be built upon, adopted, and adapted in future research, policy, and practice, particularly our own. [58]


We dedicate this project to our mentor, friend, and role model, Dr. Ron Avi ASTOR, who has created a sense of home for us through his kindness, intellect, integrity, stability, and good humor. We also acknowledge our four-legged "fur babies," Fezik and Sam, who remind us every day that we are (already) home.


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Dr. Brianna L. KENNEDY is an assistant professor in the Department of Education at Utrecht University. She studies the inclusion and exclusion of students from nondominant social backgrounds with a particular focus on educational policy and classroom teaching. As a former middle school teacher, she prioritizes the bridging of theory, research, and practice, and she investigates and develops appropriate inquiry approaches to do so.


Brianna L. Kennedy, Ph.D.

Utrecht University
Department of Education
Heidelberglaan 1
3584 CS Utrecht, Netherlands

E-mail: b.l.kennedy@uu.nl


Dr. Hadass MOORE is an assistant professor at the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research focuses on populations experiencing homelessness, and the intersection between education and social work. In her work she examines the role of larger contextual factors in the lives of at-risk children and youth. This focus is based on her practice experience. Dr. Moore utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods in order to understand the nestedness of homeless children and youth within the different systems.


Hadass Moore, Ph.D.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare
Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel

E-mail: hadass.moore@mail.huji.ac.il


Kennedy, Brianna L. & Moore, Hadass (2021). Grounded Duoethnography: A Dialogic Method for the Exploration of Intuition Through Divergence and Convergence [58 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 22(2), Art. 17, http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-22.2.3668.

Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research (FQS)

ISSN 1438-5627

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