Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Grounded Theory in CCA

Grounded theory is the premiere choice in culture-centered approach research. I write this as a statement because this is how I understand it, but I desperately want to end it with a question mark. If it is true, then I desire a confirmation as to why this may be the case. My assumption is because the existing theories that incorporate culture (such as theory of reasoned action and the health belief model, which are both referenced in Mohan’s article) were created under the auspices of institutions holding power and access. Therefore, to build a theoretical framework using these existing theories would be like instantly giving the upper hand to the hegemonic powers that be, rather than those who are the primary concern for the research: the marginalized communities.

But, such pondering leads me to the next statement/question… How do you effectively use a grounded theory approach and still maintain a strong sense of credibility and buy-in from institutional peers? It is one thing to select a methodology, it is another thing to collect data using that selected methodology, and it is still yet another thing to develop an interpretation, using newly formed theories from the findings. But, each of those three areas (or “things”) has the potential to crash and burn if not done meticulously well, so as to stand strong against the typical hegemonic approaches to data collection within marginalized people. Perhaps my question leads to a very obvious answer, but I will blame it on my novice use of grounded theory. Regardless, I have a fascination with its potential and obvious applicability to this type of research.

The other area of fascination I have with the culture-centered approach is the researcher’s interpretations of the data. In the “Poverty, Structural Barriers, and Health” article, I was struck with the following statement, “Nimai1’s voice resonated with a sense of hopelessness” (p. 1112). In my opinion, this is an extremely powerful statement that creates a very influential narrator for this man’s and others’ stories. While this statement drew me into the graphic state of structure, agency and culture for these people, I also wondered how we, as researchers, can carefully and methodically float back and forth between researcher and storyteller? I ask this sympathetically, not critically.

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