Difference Between Grounded Theory and Ethnography

Get Difference Between Grounded Theory and Ethnography essay assignment

Difference Between Grounded Theory and Ethnography essay assignment


Grounded theory and ethnography are two qualitative research  methodologies. Grounded theory, developed by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, is a methodology that involves developing theory through the analysis of data. Ethnography is the systematic study of a culture or community. The main difference between grounded theory and ethnography is their purpose; grounded theory aims at developing theories whereas ethnography aims at exploring and understanding a particular culture or community (Hasa,2017).

Difference Between Grounded Theory and Ethnography essay assignment

Grounded Theory: Grounded theory is a methodology that involves developing theory through the analysis of data.

Ethnography: Ethnography is the detailed and systematic study of people and cultures.


Grounded Theory: Grounded theory aims to develop theories in relation to the collected data.

Ethnography: Ethnography aims to understand a particular culture or community.

Review of Literature

Grounded Theory: Researchers do not consult literature before analyzing data since it may influence their findings.

Ethnography: Ethnographers can consult literature before starting the field work.


Grounded Theory:Theoretical sampling technique is used since it assists in developing theory.

Ethnography:Purposive sampling method is used since the study emphasizes on a particular aspect of culture.

Similarities between Grounded Theory and Ethnography essay assignment

Firstly, in both methodologies, the researcher studies the phenomenon in its natural context and uses a holistic approach to study the phenomenon .

Secondly, in both the methodologies more than one data collected approach is adopted as it helps the researcher in providing multiple interpretations and also enhances the accuracy and credibility of the research study(Datt,2014).

The third similarity between the two methodologies is that; the researcher presents the reports from the perspective of participant who have experienced the phenomenon in the natural setting. Excerpts from the interviews, stories of participants are added to the report which enhances the overall richness of the research findings.

Comment 2

Three types of qualitative research include phenomenological, grounded theory, and ethnographic research. Phenomenological research attempts to examine how people perceive and comprehend a particular situation. The information can only be collected from individuals who have lived through the experience. Grounded theory research is based on symbolic reaction theory where it is used to discover problems that exist in a social scene and how the person views or deals with them. It involves formulation, testing, and redevelopment until a theory is developed. In spite of the differences, all of these approaches share the focus of phenomenology, which is exploring how human beings make sense of experience and the meaning they give to these experiences. Phenomenology is being used in the social and human sciences including sociology, education, psychology, nursing and health sciences (Creswell, 2007).

Similarities                                                                                                                                                           Phenomenology and grounded theory studies have many similarities. The researchers explore real life situations and require a high degree of interaction between the researcher and the individual, groups or situations being examined. Both grounded theorists and phenomenologists seek to collect and analyses data from participants’ perspectives and try to ensure their findings are not influenced by preconceived ideas. To achieve this, they often involve participants in data analysis to increase the trustworthiness of the findings. In brief, grounded theorists and phenomenologists both seek to explore individuals’ experiences in the context of the worlds in which they live.

Differences                                                                                                                                                       Phenomenology and grounded theory studies have many differences Phenomenology emerged from philosophy, primarily influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger; it aims to describe and explore experiences, which can only be done by collecting data from individuals who have lived through those experiences. Hence phenomenologists often refer to the lived experience and data is often limited to interviews, while findings are reported as a rich description of the experience drawing on characteristics identified during data analysis (Ploeg, 2004). Grounded theory was developed in sociology, and was first described by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss as a qualitative methodological approach in which the aim was to generate a grounded theory, to describe and explain the phenomenon under study. Unlike phenomenologists, grounded theorists seek to include all data sources that might contribute to theory development.