Elaborations of Grounded Theory in Information Research: Arenas/Social Worlds Theory, Discourse and Situational Analysis

Ana Vasconcelos, Barbara Sen, Ana Rosa, David Ellis


This paper explores elaborations of Grounded Theory in relation to Arenas/Social Worlds Theory. The notions of arenas and social worlds were present in early applications of Grounded Theory but have not been as much used or recognised as the general Grounded Theory approach, particularly in the information studies field. The studies discussed here are therefore very unusual in information research. The empirical contexts of these studies are those of (1) the role of discourse in the organisational adaptation in information systems, (2) discourses on Organizational Interoperability in eGovernment and (3) situational analysis and discourses on coping with long term illness. Despite having a common focus on discourse and combining Grounded Theory with the Arenas/Social Worlds Theory, these three studies represent different elaborations of Grounded Theory. The structure of the analytical processes adopted range from a looser application of the constant comparative method to a much more structured analytical approach informed by Situational Analysis. The theoretical implications of the studies are explored. It is concluded that the Arenas/Social Worlds theoretical approach and the use of discourse and situational analysis are particularly appropriate for library and information research and provide a flexible and adaptable research approach for explaining and mapping complex and dynamic domains.


grounded theory; social worlds; arenas; discourse analysis; situational analysis

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