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The Constant Comparative Method of Qualitative Analysis

Author(s): Barney G. Glaser


Source: Social Problems, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Spring, 1965), pp. 436-445
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for the Study of Social
Problems
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/798843
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436

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

ters.Even here it maybe attenuated increasedattentionto residenceand


in areas with strongreligiousand statusin investigating
It
illegitimacy.
familycontrols.
may well be thatthe generalizations
Restriction
of thisanalysisto a par- basedlargelyon studiesofurbanpoputicular metropolitanarea precludes lationsdo not applyuniformly
either
of the findingsto the to all segmentsof the urban social
generalization
or to thesuburbs.
as a whole.The findings
country
point structure
to the desirability,
of giving
however,

THE CONSTANT COMPARATIVE METHOD


OF QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS*
BARNEY G. GLASER
University
of California
Medical Center,San Francisco
Researchintosocialproblems,
problems of deviation,of controland of
crisis,and the like-the generalsubject matterto whichSocial Problems
is devoted-is still mainly feasible
throughmethodswhichyieldqualitative data. Because these areas raise
taboo
problemsof secrecy,
sensitivity,
* This paper developed out of problems
of analysis arising during the study of
terminalcare in hospitals; particularlythe
interaction of staff and dying patients.
The study is sponsored by the National
Institutesof Health, Grant GN9077. Anselm Strauss, Fred Davis, and Stewart
Perry have been strongsources of encouragement in the preparationof this paper.
I am particularlyindebtedto the extensive
editorial work of Robert K. Merton. Substantivepapers fromthis studyare: Anselm
Strauss, Barney G. Glaser, and Jeanne
Quint, "The Non-Accountabilityof Terminal Care," Hospitals, 36 (Jan. 16, 1964),
pp. 73-87; Barney G. Glaser and Anselm
Strauss, The Social Loss of Dying Patients," American Journal of Nursing, 64
(June, 1964) pp. 119-121; Barney G.
Glaser and Anselm Strauss, "Awareness
Contextsand Social Interaction,"American
Sociological Review, 29 (Oct. 1964), pp.
669-678; Barney G. Glaser and Anselm
Strauss, "Temporal Aspects of Non-Scheduled Status Passage," (to be published in
the American Journal of Sociology); and
a forthcoming
book, BarneyG. Glaser and
Anselm Strauss, Awareness of Dying: A
Studyof Social Interaction,Chicago: Aldine
Press.

andlegality,
andbecause
topics,stigma,
people in thesesituationsare usually
adeptat coveringthe factswhennecoftentheonlywaya researcher
essary,
can obtainany data, or data that is
of obaccurate,is some combination
servingwhat is going on, talkingin
ratherloose,sharing,fashionwiththe
people in the situation,and reading
someformof document
thattheyhave
written.
Thesemethodsbestallow the
researcher
eitherto gain the trustof
thepeople in the situationor, if necessary,to accomplishclandestineresearch.In viewof thisdistinctive
relevance of qualitativedata collection
and analysisformanyareas of social
problems,the constantcomparative
methodof qualitativeanalysiswill in
I trust,increasethebattery
particular,
of alternative
approachesusefulto researchers
in theseareas.
the
My otherpurposein presenting
constantcomparative
methodmay be
stated by a direct quotationfrom
Robert K. Merton-a statementhe
made in connectionwith his own
qualitativeanalysisof locals and cosinfluentials:
mopolitansas community
This part of our report,then, is a bid
to the sociological fraternityfor the
practice of incorporatingin publications
a detailed account of the ways in which

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ConstantComparativeMethod of Analysis

437

his material.8
Not onlywouldanalysis
aftera codingoperationunnecessarily
withhis purpose,
delayand interfere
but explicitcodingitselfoftenseems
an unnecessary,
task.As a
burdensome
result,the analystmerelyinspectshis
data for new properties
of his theoSOME DIVERSE APPROACHES TO
reticalcategories
and writesmemoson
ANALYSIS
QUALITATIVE
theseproperties.
Two generalcurrentapproachesto
In thispaper,I wish to suggesta
the analysisof qualitativedata are thirdapproachto theanalysisof qualias follows: (1) If the analystwishes tativedata,combining,
by an analytic
to convert
dataintocrudely procedureof constant
qualitative
the
comparison,
formin orderto testpro- explicitcodingprocedureof the first
quantifiable
he codes the approachand thestyleof theory
visionallyan hypothesis,
develdata firstand then analyzesit. An opmentof thesecond.The purposeof
effort
is madeto code"all relevant
data the constant
methodof
comparative
[that] can be broughtto bear on a jointcodingand analysisis to generate
point,"and then the assemblage,as- theorymore systematically
than aland analysisof thisdata is lowedbythesecondapproachbyusing
sessment,
in a fashion theexplicitcodingand analytic
accomplished
systematically
procethatwill "constitute
prooffora given dures.At the same time,it does not
proposition.''2
thedevelopment
of theory
by
forestall
(2) If the analystwishesonly to adheringcompletelyto the firstapgeneratetheoreticalideas-new con- proachwhichis designedfor proviceptsand theirproperties,
hypothesessional testing,not discovering,of
and interrelated
anal- hypotheses.
hypotheses-the
to the
be confined
ysiscannotusefully
the second approach
Systematizing
practiceof codingfirstand thenanathismethoddoes not supplantthe
by
in
since
the
the
data,
analyst,
lyzing
requiredin indirectpursuitof his purpose,is con- skillsand sensitivities
Rathertheconstant
spection.
comparaand
stantlyredesigning
reintegrating
notionsas he reviews tivemethodis designedto aid analysts
his theoretical
with these abilitiesin generatinga
1 Op. cit., p. 390. This is, of course, theory
whichis integrated,
consistent,
also the basic position of Paul F. Lazars- plausible,close to the data, and in a
feld. See Allen H. Barton and Paul F.
form which is clear enough to be
Lazarsfeld,"Some Functionsof Qualitative
readily,if only partially,operationAnalysisin Social Research,"in SeymourM.
qualitativeanalysesactuallydeveloped.
bodyof such
Onlywhena considerable
reportsare availablewill it be possible
to codifymethodsof qualitative
analysis
with somethingof the claritywith
which quantitative
methodshave been
articulated.1

Lipset and Neil J. Smelser (eds.), Sociology: The Progress of a Decade, Englewood, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,1961. It is the
position that has stimulatedthe work of
Becker and Geer, and Berelson cited in
footnote2.
2 Howard S. Becker and Blanche Geer,
"The Analysis of Qualitative Field Data"
in Human Organization Research, edited
by Richard N. Adams and Jack J. Preiss,
Homewood: Dorsey Press, Inc., 1960, pp.
279-289. See also Howard S. Becker,
"Problems of Inferenceand Proof in Participant Observation," American Sociological Review, Dec., 1958, pp. 652-660, and
Bernard Berelson, ContentAnalysis, Glencoe: Free Press, 1952, Chapter III, and
page 16.

3 Constantlyredesigningthe analysis is
a well known normal tendencyin qualitative research(no matterwhat the approach
to analysis) which occurs throughoutthe
whole researchexperiencefrominitial data
collection throughcoding to final analysis
and writing.It has been noted in Becker
and Geer, op. cit., 270, Berelson, op. cit.,
125; and for an excellentexample of how
it goes on, see Robert K. Merton, Social
Theory and Social Structure,New York:
Free Press, 1957, pp. 390-392. However,
this tendencymay have to be suppressed
in favor of the purpose of the first approach, but in the second approach and
the approach to be presented here, it is
used purposefullyas an analytic strategy.

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438

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

re- combinesthe firstand second apalized for testingin quantitative


search.Dependingas it still does on proachesin a mannerdifferent
from
of the ana- the constantcomparativemethod.4
the skillsand sensitivities
method Analyticinductionis concernedwith
lyst,the constantcomparative
and provingan integrated,
is notdesigned(as methodsof quanti- generating
tativeanalysisare) to guaranteethat limited,precise,universally
applicable
two analystsworkingindependentlytheoryof causesaccounting
fora spewith the same data will achievethe cificphenomenon,
e.g., drugaddiction
same results;it is designedto allow, or embezzlement.
Thus, in line with
forsomeof thevague- the firstapproach,it testsa limited
withdiscipline,
nessand flexibility
whichaid thecrea- numberof hypotheses
withall availativegeneration
of theory.
ble data,whichare numbers
of clearly
selectedcasesof
If the person applyingthe first definedand carefully
approachwishesto discoversome or the phenomena.In line with the
to be tested,his secondapproach,the theoryis geneall of the hypotheses
of hypotharetypically
madebyusing ratedby thereformulation
discoveries
and esesand redefinition
of thephenomena
thesecondapproachof inspection
the
memo-writingalong with explicit forcedby constantly
confronting
the approachpre- theory
withnegativecases.
coding.In contrast,
sentedherecannotbe used forproviIn contrast
the
to analytic
induction,
sional testingas well as discovering constantcomparative
methodis consincethecollecteddata,as will cernedwithgenerating
theory,
and plausibly
be seen in the foregoingdescription,suggesting(not provisionally
testing)
are not coded extensively
enoughto manyproperties
about
and hypotheses
yieldprovisionaltests,as theyare in a generalphenomenon,
e.g.,thedistrithefirstapproach.The data are coded bution of servicesaccordingto the
hence,to sug- social value of clients.Some of these
onlyenoughto generate,
gest, theory.Partial testingof the properties
may be causes; but unlike
is leftto more analytic
whennecessary,
theory,
othersareconditions,
induction
rigorous, usually quantitative,ap- consequences,
dimensions,
types,procproacheswhichcomelaterin the sci- esses,etc.,and,likeanalytic
induction,
entific
enterprise.
they should resultin an integrated
in another theory.
The first
approachdiffers
is madeto
no attempt
Further,
here.The first ascertaineitherthe universality
wayfromthatpresented
or the
approachis usuallyconcernedwitha proof of suggestedcauses or other
at the same level of properties.
few hypotheses
Sinceno proofis involved,
whiletheconstant
compara- the constantcomparative
generality,
method,in
tive methodis concernedwithmany contrast
doesnot,
to analytic
induction,
hypothesessynthesizedat differentas will be seen,requireconsideration
The reasonforthis of all availabledata,noris thedatarelevelsof generality.
is that the firstapproach stricted
difference
to one kindof clearlydefined
must keep the theorytractablefor case.The constant
method
comparative
provisionaltestingin the same pre- maybe appliedforthe samestudyto
Of course,theanalystusing anykindof qualitative
sentation.
ininformation,
the firstapproachmight,aftereither cludingobservations,
docuinterviews,
his hypotheses,ments,articles,books,and so forth.
provingor disproving
attemptto explainhis findingswith As a consequence,
the constantcomsomemoregeneralideas suggested
by
his data,thusachievingsome synthe- 4 See Alfred R. Lindesmith, Opiate
Principia, 1947,
levelsof generality. Addiction, Bloomington:
sis at different
pp. 12-14, and Donald R. Cressey,Other
Another approach to qualitative People's Money, New York: Free Press,
which 1953, p. 16 et passim.
analysisis "analyticinduction,"

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ConstantComparative
Methodof Analysis

439

TABLE I
USE

OF APPROACHES

Yes

Generating
Yes
Theory
No

TO QUALITATIVE

ANALYSIS

ProvisionalTesting of Theory
No

(2) Inspection for hypotheses


along with (1) coding for
test, then analyzing data
(4) AnalyticInduction
(1) Coding for test, then analyzing data

(2) Inspection for hypotheses


(3) Constant Comparative
Method
EthnographicDescription

parisons requiredby both methods tivemethod:whilecodingan incident


withrespectto breadthof pur- for a category,
differ
compareit with the
and what previousincidentscoded in the same
pose, extentof comparing,
data and ideas are compared.
For example,as the analyst
category.
Clearlythe purposesof both these codes an incidentin which a nurse
methodsforgenerating
theory
supple- respondsto thepotential"socialloss"
menteach otheras well as the first -loss to familyand occupation-of
thisinciand second approachesin providing a dyingpatient,he compares
coded in
diversealternatives
to qualitative
analy- dentwithotherspreviously
sis. Table I locatesthe uses of these the same categorybefore further
approachesto qualitativeanalysisand coding.6Since codingqualitativedata
providesa schemefor locatingother takes some studyof each incident,
to theirpurposes. this comparisoncan oftenbe based
approaches
according
on memory.
There is usuallyno need
to turnbackto everypreviousincident
THE CONSTANT
COMPARATIVE
foreach comparison.
METHOD
This constant
of theincomparison
The constantcomparativemethod cidents
soon startsto generate
very
in
can be described fourstages: (1)
of the category.
theoretical
properties
incidents
comparing
applicableto each One startsthinkingin termsof the
category,(2) integratingcategories full range of typesor continuaof
and theirproperties,(3) delimiting the
its dimensions,
the concategory,
thetheory,
thetheory. ditions
and (4) writing
underwhichit is pronounced
Althoughthismethodis a continuous or minimized,
its majorconsequences,
growthprocess--eachstage after a the relationof the categoryto other
timetransforms
itselfintothe next-and otherproperties
of the
categories,
previousstages remainin operation category.For example,in constantly
throughout
the analysisand provide comparingincidentson how nurses
continuous
to thefollowdevelopment
respondto the social loss of dying
ing stage untilthe analysisis termi- patients,we saw that some patients
nated.
are perceivedas a highsocialloss and
1. Comparingincidentsapplicable some as a low social loss and that
to each category.
The analyststartsby patientcare tendedto varypositively
codingeach incidentin his data in as withdegreeof socialloss. It was also
manycategoriesof analysisas possi- apparentthatsomeof the socialattriI add thebasic, butes which nurses combineto esble.5To thisprocedure
rulefortheconstant
defining
compara- tablisha degreeof socialloss are seen
5 I follow the procedure for selection
and coding of categoriesgiven in Becker
and Geer, op. cit., pp. 271-82.

6 Illustrationsin the paper will referto


"The Social Loss of Dying Patients," op.
cit.

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440

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

of the categorywhichre(age, ethnic,socialclass) properties


immediately
and somearelearnedaftera timewith sultedfrominitialcomparison
of inciincithepatient(occupational
worth,mari- dents.For example,in comparing
led dentwithincidentwe discoveredthe
tal status,education).This further
us to the realizationthat perceived propertythat nurses are constantly
a patient'ssocial loss as
socialloss can changeas newattributesrecalculating
of thepatientsare learned.It also be- theylearnmoreabouthim.Fromthen
came apparentunderwhatconditions on each incidenton calculationwas
(types of wards and hospitals) we comparedto accumulatedknowledge
not to all otherinciwould findclustersof patientswith on calculating,
dents of calculation.Thus, once we
different
degreesof socialloss.
Aftercodingfora category
perhaps foundthatage was themostimportant
in calculating
socialloss,
threeor fourtimes,the analystwill characteristic
the
experiencea conflictin emphasisof we coulddiscernhow age affected
of sociallossas thenurses
He will bothmuseoverthese recalculation
thought.
theoreticalnotionsand try to con- found out more about the patient's
on thestudyof thenextinci- education.We found that education
centrate
in calculating
the
the alternateways was mostimportant
dent to determine
in whichit shouldbe codedand com- sociallossof a middleyearadult,since
was likely
at thistimein lifeeducation
pared. At thispoint,the secondrule to
be of mostsocialworth.This exammethodis:
of theconstant
comparative
stop coding and recorda memo on ple also shows thatthe accumulated
of the cateideas.This ruleis designedto tap the knowledgeon a property
of the analyst'stheo- gory-becauseof constant
comparison
initialfreshness
reticalnotionsand to relievethe con- -readily startsto becomeintegrated;
flict in thought.In doing so, the thatis, relatedin manydiverseways,
in a unifiedwhole.
analystshouldtake as muchtime as resulting
In addition,the diverseproperties
and takinghis
forreflecting
necessary
to itsmostlogical(grounded of the categorystartto becomeintethinking
in the data, not speculative)conclu- grated.We soonfoundthatcalculating
social loss was resions. If one is workingon a team, and recalculating
of a social
it is also a good idea to sit downwith lated to the development
no- loss "story"aboutthe patient.When
and discusstheoretical
a teammate
tions with him. The teammatecan asked about a patient,nurseswould
help bring out points missed, add tell whatamountedto a storyabouta
theingredients
of which
pointshe has run acrossin his own dyingpatient,
and cross- were her continualbalancingout of
codingand data collection,
checkpoints.He, too,beginsto com- socialloss factorsas she learnedmore
notionswithhis own aboutthepatient.We also foundthat
paretheanalyst's
ideas and knowledgeof the data, the calculus of social loss and the
ideas. social loss storywere relatedto her
moretheoretical
whichgenerates
for copingwiththe upsetWith clearerideas on the emerging strategies
comtheana- tingimpacton her professional
recorded,
systematically
theory
more
for
the
data
to
returns
a
with
of,
then
say,
dying
patient
posure
lyst
a highsocialloss (e.g., a motherwith
comparison.
codingand constant
2. Integrating
categoriesand their two children).This examplefurther
becomesinteThis processstartsout in showsthatthe category
properties.
of analya smallway; memosand possiblecon- gratedwithothercategories
ferencesare short.But as the coding sis: thesocialloss of thedyingpatient
their
continuesthe constantcomparativeis relatedto nursesmaintaining
of inci- professionalcomposurewhile attendunitschangefromcomparison
dent with incidentto incidentwith ing his dying.Thus the theorydevel-

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ConstantComparative
Methodof Analysis

441

ops as different
categoriesand their we were also discoveringthat our
propertiestend to becomeintegrated theorycould be generalizedto one
throughconstantcomparisonswhich which concernsthe care of all, not
forcetheanalystto makesomerelated just dying,patientsby all staff,not
theoretical
sense of each comparison. just nurses.Even more generally,it
of how socialvalues
3. Delimitingthe theory.As the couldbe a theory
will affectthe distheorydevelops, various delimiting of professionals
of theirservicesto clients:
featuresof the constantcomparative tribution
methodset in to curb what could for example,how theydecide who
otherwisebecome an overwhelmingamong many waitingclientsshould
task. This delimitingoccurs at two nextreceivea serviceand whatcalibre
levels: (1) the theoryand (2) the of theserviceto givehim.Thus,with
and conseoriginallistof categories
proposedfor reductionof terminology
whichareforcedby
coding.First,the theorysolidifiesin quentgeneralizing
the sensethatmajormodifications
of which
be- constantcomparisons-some
found
comefewerand feweras one compares can now be based on incidents
the next incidentsof a categoryto in the literature
of otherprofessional
of it. Latermodifications
are areas-theanalyststartsto achievetwo
properties
of theory:(1)
requirements
mainlyon theorderof logicalclarity; foremost
of variablesand formulain- parsimony
paringoffnon-relevant
properties;
detailsof proper- tionand (2) scopein theapplicability
tegrating
elaborating
ties intothe majoroutlineof interre- of thetheory
to a widerangeof situalated categories;and mostimportant,tions,7while keepinga close correreduction.By reductionI mean that spondenceof the theory
to data.
a higherlevel,smallersetof concepts, Second,delimiting
thetheory
results
based on discovering
underlying
uni- in a delimiting
of theoriginallist of
formities
in the originalset of cate- proposed categoriesfor coding. As
goriesor theirproperties,
mightoccur thetheory
grows,reduces,and increasto the analystby whichto writethe inglyworksbetterin orderinga mass
its termino- of qualitative
theory,hence,delimiting
data,theanalystbecomes
to it.Thiscommitment
logyand text.An illustration
now
showing committed
both integration
of moredetailsinto allowshimto delimittheoriginallist
thetheory
and someconsequent
reduc- of categories
for codingaccordingto
tion is the following.We decidedto the boundaries
of his theory.
In turn,
elaboratethetheory
byaddingdetailed his consideration,
coding, and anastrategieswhich the nursesused to lyzingof incidents
becomemoreselect
maintaintheirprofessional
composure and focused.He can devotemoretime
while taking care of patientswith to theconstant
of incidents
comparison
varying
degreesof socialloss.We dis- clearlyapplicableto a smallerset of
coveredthattherationales
whichthey categories.
used among themselves
could all be
Anotherfactor,whichthenfurther
considered"loss rationales."The undelimitsthelistof categories
forcodwas that all ra- ing, is that
derlyinguniformity
categoriesbecometheothe
tionales indicatedwhy
patient, retically
saturated.
Afterone has coded
givenhis degreeof socialloss,would, incidents
forthesamecategory
a numif he lived,now be sociallyworthless; berof
it becomesa quickoperatimes,
in spiteof thesocialloss,he wouldbe tion to see whetheror not the next
betteroff dead. (For example,he
incidentpoints to a new
would have braindamage,be in con- applicable
of the category.If yes, then
aspect
stant,unendurablepain, or have no the incidentis coded and
compared.
chancefor a normallife.)
of terminology 7 Merton, op. cit., p. 260.
reduction
By further

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442

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

If no, theincidentis not coded,since saturateit, if the categoryis central


it only adds bulk to the coded data to thetheory.
Theoreticalsaturationhelps solve
For examand nothingto thetheory.8
categories.
problemconcerning
ple, once we had establishedage as another
the base line for calculatingsocial If the analysthas also collectedthe
loss, it was no longernecessaryto data, then he will be remembering
code incidentsreferringto age in fromtimeto timeotherincidentshe
calculatingsocial loss. However, if observedor heard thatwere not rewe came acrossa case whereage did corded. What does he do? If the
incidentappliesto an esnotappearto be thebaseline(a nega- unrecorded
it can, aftercomtive case), it was coded and then tablishedcategory,
compared.In the case of an 85-year- parison, either be neglected as a
old, dyingwomanwhowas considered saturatedpoint or, if it is a new
a greatsocial loss, we discoveredher propertyof the category,it can be
"wonderfulpersonality"outweighed added into the nextmemoand thus
into the theory.If the refactor integrated
her age as the mostimportant
memberedincidentgeneratesa new
in calculating
her socialloss.
The fact that categoriesbecome category,both incidentand category
can be employed can be includedin a memo bearing
saturated
theoretically
This may
in copingwithanother on theirplace in thetheory.
as a strategy
is
if
the
data
be
category
enough
problem:new categorieswill emerge minor.
However,if the categorybeof pagesof coding.The
afterhundreds
or notto go back comes a centralpart of the theory,
questionis whether
codedpages. the memobecomesa directiveeither
and re-codeall previously
to the notes for more
The answerforlargestudiesis "no," for returning
to thefieldor
to code forthenew coding,or forreturning
not untilstarting
for future
or
more
for
data
library
and
at thepagewhenitoccurs,
category
research.
waitingfor a few hundredpages of
The universeof data used in the
coding,or when the remainingdata
methodis based
or not constantcomparative
havebeencodedto see whether
and the
of thetheory
the new categoryhas become theo- on thereduction
and saturationof cateIf yes,thenit is not delimination
saturated.
retically
to go backbecausetheoretical gories.Thus,the collecteduniverseof
necessary
delimitedand, if
saturation
suggeststhatwhathas been data is theoretically
extendedby a recarefully
missed will in all probabilityhave necessary,
effecton theory.If turn to data collectionaccordingto
littlemodifying
This theothe categorydoes not saturate,then theoreticalrequirements.
econof theuniverse
it is necessary
to go back and tryto reticaldelimiting
omizes researchresources,since it
8 If the purpose of the analyst,besides forcesthe analystto spend his time
developing theory,is also to count inci- and effort
on data relevant
onlyto his
dents for a categoryto establishprovisional
For largefieldstudieswith
categories.
the
incident.
proofs, then he must code
usefulcategories
Furthermore,Professor Merton has made long listsof possibly
of pages of notesemin
the additional point
correspondencethat and thousands
countingfor establishingprovisionalproofs bodyingthousandsof incidents,
each
may also feed back to the developmentof of whichcould be coded a multitude
and
cross-tabulation
since
frequency
theory,
criteriaare of
of frequenciescan also generatenew theo- of ways, theoretical
retical ideas. See Berelson on conditions great necessityin paring down an
task to the reunder which one can justifytime consum- otherwisemonstrous
ing, carefulcounting,op. cit., pp. 128-134. sourcesof the people and the proSee Becker and Geer for a new methodof
Withcounting frequencyof incidents,op. cit., ject's allottedtimeand money.
of a
out thesecriteriathe delimiting
pp. 283-287.

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ConstantComparative
Methodof Analysis

443

universeof collecteddata,if done at also attemptingprovisionalproofs,


less accompanyingcrude tables. If the
all, can become very arbitrary,
likelyto yieldan integrated
product; theoryencompassesa multitudeof
to
and theanalystis morelikelyto waste ideas, it becomestoo cumbersome
timeon whatmightlaterproveto be illustrate
each idea and, evenif space
wereallowed,too burdensome
to read
irrelevant
incidents
and categories.
4. Writingtheory.At the end of manyilltustrations
whichinterrupt
the
thisprocesstheanalysthas codeddata, flowof generalideas.1'Thus qualitaa seriesof memos,and a theory.The tiveanalystswill usuallypresentonly
discussions
in the memosprovidethe enoughmaterialto facilitatecomprecontentbehindthe categories,
which hension,whichis typically
notenough
are themajorthemesof thetheoryas data to use in evaluatingall suggeswritten
in papersor books.For exam- tions.
Anotherway to conveycredibility
ple, the majorthemes(sectiontitles)
or our paper on social loss are "cal- of the theoryalong withthe use of
culatingsocial loss," "the patient's illustrations
is to use a codifiedprocesocial loss story,"and "the impactof dure for analyzingdata,such as presocial loss on the nurse'sprofessional sentedhere,whichallows readersto
composure."To startwritingone's understand
how the analystobtained
it is first
to collatethe his theory
theory,
necessary
fromthedata.In qualitative
memos on each category,which is analysesthe transition
fromdata to
easysincethememoshavebeenwritten theoryis hard,if not impossible,to
according to categories.Thus, all grasp when no codifiedprocedureis
memoson calculating
socialloss were used.12 And in his turnthe readeris
brought togetherfor summarizinglikelyto feel thatthe theoryis someand,perhaps,further
analyzingbefore whatimpressionistic,
even if the anawritingabout it. The coded data is lyststronglyassertshe has based it
the resourceto returnto whenneces- on hardstudyof datagatheredduring
saryfor validatinga suggestedpoint, monthsor yearsof field or library
data behindan hypoth- research.
"pinpointing"
esis or gaps in the theory,9
and proEven such codifiedprocedures
as a
vidingillustrations.
searchfor negativecases or a considerationof alternative
hypothesesla
DISCUSSION
willleavea readerat a loss,sincethese
A perennial analytic
arenotlinkedwith
Conveyingcredibility.
procedures
problemwith qualitativeanalysisis proceduresfor usingqualitativedata.
thecredibility
of a theory.1?
conveying
See detailed discussion on this point
The standardapproachto thisproblem in 11
Strauss,et al., op. cit.
is presenting
data as evidenceforcon12 Following Merton's quotation (page
clusions,thus indicatingthe way by 437), we need moredescriptionsof methods
whichthe analystobtainedthe theory of transitionfromqualitativedata to qualifromhis data.However,sincequalita- tative analysis. Barton and Lazarsfeld (op.
cit.) delimiting the various functions of
tive data do not lend themselves
to qualitative
analysis indicate a full range
the
of
readysummary, analyst
usuallyprepurposes for which other methods of
transition
can
be developed. In focusing
illustrations
sentscharacteristic
and, if
o On "pinpointing" see Anselm Strauss,
Leonard Schatzman, Rue Bucher, Danuta
Ehrlich and Melvin Shabshin, Psychiatric
Ideologies and Institutions, New York:
Free Press of Glencoe, 1964, Chapter 2,
"Logic, Techniques and Strategiesof Team
Fieldwork."
to Becker, op. cit., p. 659.

discussionon these purposes theyhit upon


what might be considered elements of
possible such methods. To analyze a purpose and the analytic operations involved
in its final achievementis not, however,
to be construedas a method of transition
that guides one the full route from raw
qualitativedata to accomplishedpurpose.
18 Becker,op. cit.,p. 290.

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444

SOCIAL PROBLEMS

the analystlearnsto see his


howandhowlong incidents,
Theydo notspecify
to searchfor negativecases or how categoriesas havingboth an internal
to
and changingrelations
to findalternative
givena development
hypotheses
data.Thus othercategories.For example,as the
bodyof qualitative
specified
the analystcan still be suspect in nurselearnsmore about the patient,
of social loss change;
makinghis theoryappearcredibleby her calculations
change her social
biasinghis searchfor negativecases and recalculations
or his reasonablealternative
hypoth- loss stories,her loss rationalesand
method her care of the patient.Thus, while
eses.The constant
comparative
with this methodcan be used to generate
analytic
procedures
joinsstandard
for using the data system- statictheories,it especiallyfacilitates
directives
of theoriesof process,
the generation
atically.
In addition,keepingtrackof one's sequence,and changewhichpertainto
and socialinpositions,
com- organizations,
ideas,as requiredbytheconstant
teraction.
the
raises
probability
parativemethod,
thatthetheorywill be well integrated This is an inductivemethod of
In makingtheoand clear,sincetheanalystis forcedto theorydevelopment.
sense of each com- reticalsenseof muchdiversity
make theoretical
in his
parison.Making sure the categories data,the analystis forcedto develop
which
of the theoryare ideas on a level of generality
and theirproperties
is difficultis higherthanthequalitativematerial
interrelated
meaningfully
enough;keepingall the interrelationsbeinganalyzed.He is forcedto bring
and diveruniformities
is an addeddifficulty.out underlying
clearlydelineated
The integrationand clarityof the sities and to accountfor differences
theorywill in turnraise the proba- withsingle,higherlevelconcepts.He
and is forcedto engage in reductionof
bilitythatit will be understood
as discussedabove, to
believedcredibleby colleagues.
terminology,
Propertiesof the theory.The con- achievemasteryof his data. If the
methodraises the analyststartswith raw data, he will
stantcomparative
probabilityof achievinga complex at firstend up with a substantive
theorywhich correspondscloselyto theory:a theoryfor the substantive
the data, since the constantcompari- areaon whichhe has done researchof muchdi- forexample,patientcareor gang besons forceconsideration
I mean havior.If the analyststartswiththe
in thedata.Bydiversity,
versity
frommanystudieswhichperto other findings
is compared
thateachincident
of a category tainto an abstract
category,
or to properties
sociological
incidents
by as manyof its similarand diverse he will end up witha formaltheory
aspectsas possible.This wayof com- fora conceptualarea such as stigma,
paring may be seen in contrastto deviance,lower class, statuscongrugroups.To be sure,
codingfor crudeproofs,whichonly ency,or reference
or not an incident thelevelof generality
of a substantive
whether
establishes
can be raisedto a formaltheory
of thecate- theory
thefewproperties
indicates
(our theoryof social loss of dying
gorywhichare beingcounted.
of inci- patientscould be raisedto the level
The constantcomparisons
people give serdentson thebasisof as manyof their of how professional
to theirsocial
as possible viceto clientsaccording
and differences
similarities
additional
This
a
analyvalue).
requires
tendto resultin theanalyst's
creating
theory.14
developmental
In comparing Sociological Review, June, 1964, p. 332;
14 Recent calls for more developmental,
as opposed to static, theories have been
made by Wilbert Moore, "Predicting Discontinuities in Social Change," American

Howard S. Becker, Outsiders,New York:


Free Press, 1962, pp. 22-25; and BarneyG.
Glaser and Strauss, Awareness Contexts
and Social Interaction,op. cit.

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Methodof Analysis
ConstantComparative

445

sis of one'ssubstantive
and the ample, two relatedpropertiesof a
theory,
analystshould includematerialfrom dyingpatientare his social loss and
other studieswith the same formal the amountof attentionhe receives
theoretical
howeverdiversethe fromnurses.This can easily be reimport,
substantivecontent.15The analyst statedas a proposition:patientsconshouldbe awareof thelevel of gene- sidereda high social loss compared
ralityat whichhe startsin relationto to thoseconsidereda low social loss
thelevelat whichhe wishesto endup. will tend to receivemore attention
The constantcomparativemethod fromnurses.
or proposican yield eitherproperty
15 ".
. the developmentof any one
tional theory.The analystmay wish
is
to proliferatemanypropertiesof a of these coherentanalyticperspectives
likelyto comefromthosewho restrict
or he maywishto writeprop- not
category
exclusively
to one substantive
theirinterest
ositions about a category.Property area," ErvingGoffman,
Stigma:Notes on
at the ex- theManagement
Engleof SpoiledIdentity,
theoryis often sufficient
Inc.,1963,
N.J.: Prentice-Hall,
stageof theorydevelopment woodCliffs,
ploratory
See also ReinhardBendix,"Conintopropo- p. 147.
and caneasilybe translated
cepts and Generalizations
in Comparative
sitions if the work of the reader Sociological
Studies,"American
Sociological
For ex- Review,August,1963, pp. 532-539.
requiresa formalhypothesis.

THE TEXTBOOK

WORLD OF FAMILY SOCIOLOGY


HYMAN RODMAN

Merrill-PalmerInstitute

functions
forindividMany thingshave been muchsaid formimportant
and as a consequence
about familysociology:it deals with uals and society,
area
sensitive
issuesand therefore
theobjec- familysociologyis an important
of researchers
and theacceptabil- of researchand has producedsomeof
tivity
studiesin thesocial
ityof research
bythepublichavecome themostimportant
slowly; everybodyis an expert in sciences.
The above issueshave been dealt
familysociology,
havinglivedmostof
much withmanytimes,and I shalltherefore
his lifein families,
and therefore
of familysociologyis trivialand com- not elaborate.Nor shall I go into a
monsensical;many groups have a general review of familyresearch,
vested interestin "the family"and becausethe familyarea has perhaps
thereforefamilysociologyis either had morethanits fairshareof such
howor insolently reviewsandcritiques.
conservative
Textbooks,
subserviently
radical; familysociologyboasts of ever,haveseldombeen lookedat critmanydiversestudiesbut few binding ically,exceptin the courseof reviews
unlesssprin- abouta singletextat a time.I shall
theories;it haslow status,
in a critical
vein,concentrate
kled with terms like "kinship" or therefore,
to the
textbooks,
uponfamilysociology
"comparative" or "structural-funcand of texts
neglectof readers,
tional"; it is popular with students relative
or that are primarilypractical(family
interest
(eitherbecauseof intrinsic
(anthropologsuspect. life) or cross-cultural
easy grading) and therefore
I have made no
Despite this rathergloomypicture, ical) in orientation.
familiesof one formor anotherare attempt
to rankthe textsin orderof
found,and universally
per- theirexcellence; all of thosethat I
universally

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