Grounded theory: A methodological spiral from positivism to postmodernism

Jane Mills, Ysanne Chapman, Ann Bonner, Karen Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Aim: Our aim in this paper is to explain a methodological/methods package devised to incorporate situational and social world mapping with frame analysis, based on a grounded theory study of Australian rural nurses' experiences of mentoring.Background: Situational analysis, as conceived by Adele Clarke, is designed to move the research methodology of grounded theory away from its traditional postpositivist roots and around the postmodern turn. Clarke uses three types of maps during this process: situational, social world and positional, in combination with discourse analysis.Method: During this grounded theory study, the process of concurrent interview data generation and analysis incorporated situational and social world mapping techniques. An outcome of this was our increased awareness of how outside actors influenced participants in their constructions of mentoring.In our attempts to use Clarke's methodological package, however, it became apparent that our constructivist beliefs about human agency could not be reconciled with the postmodern project of discourse analysis. We then turned to the literature of symbolic interactionism and adopted frame analysis as a method to examine the literature regarding rural nursing and mentoring as secondary form of data.Findings While we found situational and social world mapping very useful, we were less successful in using positional maps. In retrospect we would now argue that collective action framing provides an alternative to analyzing such positions in the literature. This is particularly so for researchers who locate themselves within a constructivist paradigm, and who are therefore unwilling to reject the notion of human agency and the ability for individuals to shape their world in some way.Conclusion: Our example of using this package of situational and social worlds mapping with frame analysis is intended to assist other researchers to locate participants more transparently in the social worlds thatnegotiate in their everyday practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


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