ACSPRI Conferences, ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2010

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Theorising the process of preventive dental care while combining two theories in practice

Alexandra Sbaraini, Stacy M Carter, Robin Wendell Evans, Anthony Blinkhorn

Building: Holme Building
Room: Sutherland Room
Date: 2010-12-02 03:30 PM – 05:00 PM
Last modified: 2010-11-17


This presentation discusses a grounded theory study of the process of implementing preventive care in private dental practice. We will show how two sets of theoretical concepts enriched the conduct of our empirical work.  This study was designed and conducted in accordance with Charmaz’s1 iteration of grounded theory methodology, using semi-structured interviews as data and informed by an Interactionist view of the social world. We began with an open approach to the problem under study, aiming to develop a new substantive theory of an important process in private dental practice. As would be expected in a grounded theory study, we began inductively, generating a tentative, empirically-derived model of the social process under study from the perspective of patients and staff with particular attention to meaning and interaction. This was expressed in both diagrams and memos, and was built around a core set of inter-related focused codes. However, as the study progressed, we needed tools to help us think about concepts in our analysis. We needed to make a “mental leap” 2 to bring all findings together in a novel way and relate them to existing theory. 2 After few attempts, we made an abductive connection to Bourdieu’s3 set of thinking tools. These tools offered us a new way of looking at our findings and a new insight into the field of dentistry. Including Bourdieu’s thinking tools helped us to bridge the micro individual level of interaction, the meso organizational level of each dental practice as an individual field, and the macro level or greater field of dentistry. We conclude that existing theory can guide empirical practice both by providing (1) an initial way to perceive the social world including participants’ actions, interactions and the process of meaning formation4 and (2) by providing abductive thinking tools to enrich inductively driven data analysis.



1.     Charmaz, K. Constructing grounded theory: a practical guide through qualitative analysis. London: Sage Publications, 2006.

2.     Bryant A & Charmaz K . The Sage handbook of grounded theory. London: Sage, 2007.

3.     Grenfell, M. "Pierre Bourdieu: Key concepts" London: Acumen Press, 2008.

4.     Blummer, H (1969). The methodological position of symbolic interactionism. Chapter 1 in Symbolic interactionism: perspective and method. Berkley: University of California Press (pp 1-60).