chapter  2
19 Pages


BySteven Engler

Grounded theory (GT) aims at ‘the discovery of theory from data systematically obtained from social research’ (Glaser and Strauss 2009: 2). It builds theory rather than trying to verify or apply it. GT can be an effective methodological choice in three circumstances: when there is little or no literature on relevantly similar cases; when existing concepts/theories seem inadequate for aspects of the material at hand; or when one wishes to explore the possibility of alternative modes of conceptualizing a case. The fi rst section below presents an overview of GT as a method. The second section explores some of the epistemological and semantic

issues raised by the basic premise of GT, i.e. that ‘theory’ can emerge from or be discovered in ‘data’. The third section looks at examples of GT in the study of religion.