A Personal Journey with Grounded Theory Methodology. Kathy Charmaz in Conversation With Reiner Keller


  • Kathy Charmaz Sonoma State University
  • Reiner Keller Universität Augsburg




grounded theory methodology, qualitative research, interviews, symbolic interactionism, constructivism, health, medicine, sociology, education, evaluation


Kathy CHARMAZ is one of the most important thinkers in grounded theory methodology today. Her trailblazing work on constructivist grounded theory continues to inspire research across many disciplines and around the world. In this interview, she reflects on the aura surrounding qualitative inquiry that existed in California in the late 1960s to early 1970s and the lessons she learned from her first forays into empirical research. She comments on the trajectory that grounded theory research has followed since then and gives an account of her own perspective on constructivist grounded theory. In doing so, she underlines the importance of the Chicago School and symbolic interactionist tradition for grounded theory research work today and shows where the latter is positioned in the current field of qualitative fieldwork.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1601165


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Author Biographies

Kathy Charmaz, Sonoma State University

Kathy CHARMAZ graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in occupational therapy from the University of Kansas in 1962. After working in physical rehabilitation (she practiced as occupational therapist in Seattle 1962-1963 and became Director of Occupational Therapy at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco 1963-1965) she passed a master's degree in sociology at San Francisco State College in 1969. She then completed her dissertation at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1973. 1972/1973 she was assistant professor of sociology at Sacramento State College; 1973-1977 assistant professor of sociology at Sonoma State University, 1977-1981 associate professor of sociology. In 1981 she became a professor in sociology at Sonoma State University, California, where she since 1996 to the present acts as director of the Faculty Writing Program. During her career, she held a multiplicity of important positions, for example presidencies of the Pacific Sociological Association (1999-2000) and of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (2009-2010). Her areas of expertise include sociological theory, social psychology, research methods, health and medicine, aging, death and dying, sociology of emotions and the body. She has extensively written on grounded theory methodology, health & illness, and received, amongst many other honors, in 2006 the George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. Her major books include: "Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis," 2nd rev. ed. 2014, London: Sage; "Good Days, Bad Days: The Self in Chronic Illness and Time," 1991, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press; "The Social Reality of Death: Death in Contemporary America," 1980, Boston: Addison Wesley. She is co-editor of the "Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory" (with Anthony BRYANT, 2007 & 2010) and co-editor of the 2014 Sage 4-volume set "Grounded Theory and Situational Analysis" (with Adele CLARKE).

Reiner Keller, Universität Augsburg

Reiner KELLER, born in 1962 near Saarbrücken (Germany), studied sociology at the universities of Saarbrücken, Rennes (France) and Bamberg (Germany) and was awarded his Diploma in 1988. He received a PhD in sociology in 1997 on "Müll. Die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion des Wertvollen. Die öffentliche Diskussion über Abfall in Deutschland und Frankreich" [Garbage. The Social Construction of Value. Public Discourses on Household Waste in Germany and France] (Munich, Technical University), and accomplished his habilitation in 2004 on "Wissenssoziologische Diskursanalyse. Grundlegung eines Forschungsprogramms" [The Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse. A Research Program"] (Augsburg University, Germany). From October 2006 to September 2011 he was full professor of sociology at Koblenz-Landau University (Germany). Since October 2011, he is professor of sociology at Augsburg University. Currently, he is chair of the Sociology of Knowledge Section and member of the executive board of the German Sociological Association. His research centers on sociology of knowledge and culture, discourse studies, sociological theory, qualitative methods, risk and environment, and French sociology.




How to Cite

Charmaz, K., & Keller, R. (2016). A Personal Journey with Grounded Theory Methodology. Kathy Charmaz in Conversation With Reiner Keller. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-17.1.2541



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