Vivian Martin

Professor, Media Scholar (News in Everyday Life), Grounded Theorist, Author

“A little bit of grounded theory goes a long way”

Ideally, ‘serious ‘grounded theorists prefer to see more people work the methodology in full. But this does not happen for a range of personal and structural reasons. Dr. Barney Glaser, one of the co-developers of GTM, in moments of resignation, would sometimes say that at least a little bit grounded theory would get people further in their projects than they might otherwise get.  

In this talk I discuss how even a little grounded theory can be an important tool for sharpening thinking and making people more aware of the social machinations going on around them every day.  As a seed, I will use “preemptive greeting,” which conceptualises an incident that I experienced in 2005 while on my way to a GT event in Mill Valley. On sharing the incident with Glaser, his reaction was similar to mine. He told me to ‘write it up.’ He offered ‘greeting’ or ‘meeting’; I don’t recall. I never got around to it, paralyzed in part by other commitments as well as my thinking that the phenomenon was probably developed in Ethnomethodology or some related area. I have thought about the concept on and off, how it illuminated a moment even if it was not a developed theory.

During this talk I will invite the audience to share incidents of “preemptive greeting” and develop its properties as I share some memoing. It is my hope we can experience the potency of GT as thinking. I encourage grounded theorists to move out of their substantive areas to think like grounded theorists about the world. A little bit of grounded theory might build grounded theory.