About the Author

Maya Halatcheva-Trapp

E-Mail: maya.halatcheva-trapp@tu-dortmund.de

Dr. Maya Halatcheva-Trapp is post-doctoral researcher at the TU Dortmund University, Faculty of Social Sciences. She studied psychology at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” Bulgaria, sociology at the Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich, and obtained a PhD in sociology from the Ludwig-Maximilian-University. Her post-doctoral project is about intuition and science, particularly how intuition can be theorized and methodically captured in qualitative social research.Her research interests include sociology of knowledge, history of science, family studies, qualitative methodology, and methods of social research.

Contributions by Author: Maya Halatcheva-Trapp

12/14/2022 _Perspective

The Aesthetics of Codes in Grounded Theory Research

A Scientific-Literary Essay

1_Introduction As an empirically working sociologist who analyzes her data using Grounded Theory, [1] I often deal with codes. They are a methodological heuristic for reconstructing meaning. Coding, which means the circular process of working out codes and categories in order to analytically ‘break down’ the data, forms the core of the methodology of Grounded Theory. The procedures of coding—open, axial, and selective—aim to structure the data in line with the research question, and to develop a theory that is empirically grounded. The question “What is the main story here?” [2] guides the coding process. The reconstruction of this ‘story’ holds many surprises for the researcher—not only in terms of the story’s outcome, i.e., surprises regarding the narrative content, but also personal surprises regarding one’s self-awareness. Codes emerge in a co-constructive process involving the researcher and the data. Therefore, codes are also the result of a relationship—the relationship between the researcher and the field of research in the form of the data—and are characterized by personal impressions, feelings and bodily-sensory experiences. Codes condense aesthetic experience, rendering it reflexively available and discursive. The affective and bodily subjectivity of the researcher is interwoven in the codes, it affects the production of the knowledge about the field and the object of research alike and if reflected, it can be transformed into methodological knowledge. In the following, I will exemplify this using an example from my research. After a short introduction of the methodology of Grounded Theory (2) and its coding procedures (3), I describe my own affective and bodily-sensory experiences with codes (3) and illustrate them with the example already mentioned (4). 2_The Methodology of Grounded Theory Grounded Theory is a research approach characterized by the interconnectedness of empirical research and theory building. The term Grounded Theory stands for both the specific research methodology and its outcome, namely the development of an empirically based theory that is grounded in the data. Grounded Theory does not aim at the empirical testing of an already existing theory, but instead focuses on generating new knowledge and establishing a new theory about social phenomena. Grounded Theory was developed by Barny G. Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss at a time when social science research and theory building still followed the criteria for scientificity of the natural sciences: a linear and standardized methodological approach, the replicability of results, and the exclusion of subjectivity of the researchers. Glaser and Strauss…