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Grounded Theory (GT) is one of the oldest and most often used forms of qualitative research. Unlike other methods, GT is used to develop theory. Grounded Theory has great potential for social work because in order to conduct theory-based practice, social workers need middle-range theories that are neither highly abstract nor difficult to apply in real life. Social work and Grounded Theory focus on the interaction of individual and society. GT studies can provide theories about how individuals navigate their surroundings that can be tested in social work practice and, ultimately, be used to guide social work practitioners. In this volume, readers will find discussions of the common roots of social work and Grounded Theory, the basic characteristics of grounded theory research, and issues of quality in grounded theory research. In addition, practical guidelines and suggestions are provided for conducting grounded theory research, from writing the proposal to advanced data analysis. Exemplars from social work literature are used to illustrate grounded theory research in different social work fields. With practice exercises, guidelines for formulating problems and gathering and analyzing data, tips for working with software, consideration of ethical and Institutional Review Board issues, and discussion of new developments such as mixed-method and synthesis, this pocket guide offers social work researchers a strong, practical introduction to GT research.
Julianne S. Oktay, PhD, is Professor of Social Work at the University of Maryland.