Examining the Nexus Between Grounded Theory and Symbolic Interactionism

  • P. Jane Milliken University of Victoria
  • Rita Schreiber University of Victoria


Grounded theory is inherently symbolic interactionist; however, not all grounded theory researchers appreciate its importance or benefit from its influence. Elsewhere, we have written about the intrinsic relationship between grounded theory and symbolic interactionism, highlighting the silent, fundamental contribution of symbolic interactionism to the methodology. At the same time, there are significant insights to be had by bringing a conscious awareness of the philosophy of symbolic interactionism to grounded theory research. In this article we discuss the symbolic interactionist concepts of mind, self, and society, and their applicability in grounded theorizing. Our purpose is to highlight foundational concepts of symbolic interactionism and their centrality in the processes of conducting grounded theory research.

Author Biographies

P. Jane Milliken, University of Victoria
Associate Professor and Associate Director, Undergraduate Education School of Nursing
Rita Schreiber, University of Victoria
Professor & NP Program Coordinator School of Nursing