Grounded Theory Method: Sociology's Quest for Exclusive Items of Inquiry


  • Edward Tolhurst Staffordshire University



grounded theory method, natural sciences, positivism, social constructionism, symbolic interactionism


The genesis and development of grounded theory method (GTM) is evaluated with reference to sociology's attempt to demarcate exclusive referents of inquiry. The links of objectivist GTM to positivistic terminology and to the natural scientific distinction from "common sense" are explored. It is then considered how the biological sciences have prompted reorientation towards constructivist GTM, underpinned by the metaphysics of social constructionism. GTM has been shaped by the endeavor to attain the sense of exactitude associated with positivism, whilst also seeking exclusive referents of inquiry that are distinct from the empirical realm of the natural sciences. This has generated complex research techniques underpinned by tortuous methodological debate: eschewing the perceived requirement to define and defend an academic niche could help to facilitate the development of a more useful and pragmatic orientation to qualitative social research.



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Author Biography

Edward Tolhurst, Staffordshire University

Edward TOLHURST is currently undertaking a full-time PhD in The Centre for Ageing and Mental Health at Staffordshire University. This qualitative study is exploring the experience of dementia, with particular focus on the negotiation of care and relationships. Edward previously obtained an MA in Social Research at The University of Warwick. In between this degree and his current studies, he has been employed as a researcher at The University of Nottingham, and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).




How to Cite

Tolhurst, E. (2012). Grounded Theory Method: Sociology’s Quest for Exclusive Items of Inquiry. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(3).