Comparing Phenomenological Research and Grounded Theory

Qualitative research is divided into three main types: phenomenological theory, ethnographic research, and grounded theory. The current discussion post aims to highlight the similarities and differences between phenomenological theory and grounded theory. In phenomenological research, people’s perceptions and inherent thoughts are examined. Through a comprehensive examination, the research ensures that a particular situation is vehemently understood (Marjan, 2017). Subject perspectives are the underlying data collection realms for both phenomenological and grounded research theories (Hunter, 2016).

Phenomenologists and grounded theorists explore individuals’ experiences in perceiving the environment and the world they live in. Since the two approaches share plenty in common, differentiating them is difficult. For those undertaking qualitative research, the distinction between the two is always important. The ultimate starting point is to highlight the philosophical and theoretical foundations of the two methodologies (Green & Johnson, 2018). With these foundations in place, understanding the distinctive characteristics becomes easy.

The grounded theory of the research is principally based on symbolic reaction, where qualitative methodological procedures are used to describe the issue or matter under investigation. Since the two are firmly attached and shaped by social experiences, they both have a real impact on understanding the various socialization conditions. Grounded research will always end with the inception of a new theory (Marjan, 2017). However, the former encompasses people and culture where life history, confessional, and feminist design form the realist and critical aspect to promote objectivity. The proponents of the grounded theory are American sociologists Anselm Strauss and Barney Glaser (Bamkin et al., 2016). The concept of phenomenological research is associated with the great Edmund Husserl. The grounded theory tends to shape the novelty, ecological validity, and parsimony of data sources that can contribute to theory development.

The author missed illuminating the primary influencers of the phenomenological theory, Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl. People who lived through an experience are top players in shaping phenomenological research (Chance & Duffy, 2020). Documented evidence is not an option here as data is acquired through interviews and direct engagement with those with first-hand information. In the discussion, the author gives a perfect example of a nurse interrogating a patient about a medical experience with heart attack complications. The perception of cultural affinity extends beyond the current population of a particular group. Hence, ethnography carries the weight of documented history and information about a particular population segment and group. Data collection is very critical, and the relevant experiences should be keenly interrogated to get the best outcome in terms of data access and quality.


Chance, D., & Bowe, B. (2020). Comparing grounded theory and phenomenology as methods to understand the lived experience of engineering educators implementing problem-based learning. European Journal of Engineering Education, 45(3), 405-442. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. 2023. "Comparing Phenomenological Research and Grounded Theory." October 10, 2023.

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ChalkyPapers. "Comparing Phenomenological Research and Grounded Theory." October 10, 2023.