Where to begin (Glaser)

Where to begin?

The research begins with a loose framework of concepts – In studying Agritecture – there will be initiators, investors, designers, engineers, the full value chain of food system operatives, including of course consumers. These give some elements of a starting point.

Decisions beyond ‘where to begin’ aren’t made in advance – rather they come from the emerging data. The basic question at each new stage of data collection becomes:

“what groups or subgroups does one turn to next in data collection? And for what theoretical purpose?” -P47

The next part of the cycle involves developing the categories and properties emerging from the data through further data collection.

Comparison groups are selected for data collection based on their relevance for helping me to develop and further the categorisations that I’m drawing from the initial data collection. Groups are selected over individual cases in order to make sure I’m picking up on both the differences and similarities happening within a group. Having a few instances within a group can both maximise a point – if they all experience it- as well as diminish it – say if it is only experienced by one. In the same way I can choose to maximise or minimise a storyline deliberately by selecting more similar cases – where differences should be considered more significant – perhaps deserving their own category to be established. Equally similarities can help to determine properties in common and therefore properties of the category. Where groups are more different – emerging commonalities can be indicative of potential for creating useful generalisations.

In terms of a work flow, Glaser 1967 suggests that groups be closer together in early cycles – in order to establish initial basic categories, followed by widening the differences to draw out more general theoretical properties in later cycles of data collection.

Basic types of groups is something I may want to predetermine – in order to manage the scope and conceptual level of the theory I’m developing. If I think of the types of groups I might interact with and how I may want to manage scope – groups that spring to mind are:

Under the general theme of Agritectures

To widen or narrow the scope I could investigate (or not) – Concepts or Organisations that reference Urban / Rural Agritectures. I could look particularly at Interior / Exterior Agritectures. Those using Agritectures to grow certain / different things e.g. Livestock / green leaves / particular vegetables, those who use this technique or that e.g. bio reactors / Nutrient Flow Hydroponics / Aeroponics / Deep Water Culture / Aquaponics.

To make the theory more general I could look to widen to – Commercial / community / domestic / beyond terrestrial (e.g. biosphere) or specific global regions.

It’s likely that I recategorise groups as nested ecosystems of their own in this research – generating subgroups and interconnections. Perhaps this will yield a topology of some kind in its own right.

Barney G. Glaser & Anselm L. Strauss. 1967. The Discovery of Grounded Theory. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. P34