Linking the Intercultural and Grounded Theory: Methodological Issues in Migration Research


  • Vera Sheridan Dublin City University
  • Katharina Storch Dublin City University



cross-cultural adaptation, ethics, grounded theory, intercultural communication, migration, self-reflexivity


Connecting intercultural research with Grounded Theory was advocated in the early history of intercultural theorising and includes the development of researchers' intercultural competencies. Such competency comes to the fore where intercultural theory places an equal emphasis on home and host cultures in migration research. In this context we have found a Grounded Theory approach particularly suitable for disentangling complex interlinkings within migration experiences and their individual outcomes. Grounded Theory allows for the exploration of various theories in different fields and the emergence of new or deeper interpretations of intercultural experiences, including where research has not engaged deeply with or avoided intercultural contexts. The use of software, based on Grounded Theory, provides the resource for systematically exploring the inter-related nature of data. In addition, engaging in intercultural research, in particular, raises questions around our practice as social science researchers: adherence to ethics guidelines, for instance, can be in some conflict with the relations we build with members of communities whose cultural values, for instance around friendship or trust, impact on the norms of both our own and institutional expectations. This leads to reflection on the relationship with research participants in terms of our own intercultural experiences and position. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0901363


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Author Biographies

Vera Sheridan, Dublin City University

Vera SHERIDAN is the Academic Coordinator of the interdisciplinary BA in Contemporary Culture and Society at Dublin City University. She has worked abroad extensively in Europe, the Middle East and Southern Africa and was also a Visiting Scholar at the University of Wuhan in China. She holds an MPhil in Applied Linguistics from Trinity College, Dublin and a Doctorate in the field of Intercultural Studies from Dublin City University. She is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK. Interests at present are: relationships between language, culture and society, intercultural marginality, language issues in multicultural societies, citizenship and identity, inclusion in education. Publications include research on members of the Vietnamese community in Ireland as well as commissioned works on language teaching materials to migrants and intercultural marginality.

Katharina Storch, Dublin City University

Katharina STORCH has just completed her PhD entitled "Tracing the journey of cross-cultural adaptation of Polish migrant women in Ireland—a process of creating home when home is away' at Dublin City University (DCU). She holds an M.A. in Intercultural Studies from DCU and a Bachelor in International Marketing from Savonia Polytechnic, Varkaus in Finland. During her time in DCU, she also lectured on "Intercultural Communicative Competence" to business students and worked as a research assistant in an EU-funded research project (European Intercultural Workplace) that explores issues of diversity in workplaces across ten European countries. Her research interests are in migration and gender, with emphasis on Polish and Irish migration, cross-cultural adaptation processes and identity.




How to Cite

Sheridan, V., & Storch, K. (2009). Linking the Intercultural and Grounded Theory: Methodological Issues in Migration Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(1).



Researching Special Themes, Phenomena, and Contexts with Qualitative Approaches