Title

Cross-cultural research in occupational science: Exploiting the potential of grounded theory methodology

Location

Hiawatha 2

Start Time

17-10-2014 11:05 AM

End Time

17-10-2014 11:35 AM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Background: There have been growing calls for research within occupational science that is situated within contexts that better represent the diversity that makes up the world and occupational engagement. Currently the majority of occupational science research focuses on studies investigating the occupational processes of one particular cultural group. There are very few studies that look at the process of occupational engagement across cultures or in multiple cultural contexts.

Purpose: Nayar (2011) has argued for greater use of grounded theory methodology within occupational science and has shown that the methodology meets Yerxa et al’s (1990) specifications for the study of occupation. This paper focuses on how grounded theory methodology can be used by occupational scientists in studies to extend current understandings of occupation and to address the lack of diversity in occupational science research.

Methodology: This paper draws on findings from a grounded theory which explored how senior Chinese, Indian and Korean immigrants contribute to New Zealand society (Nayar & Wright-St.Clair, in review). Semi structured interviews and focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis using grounded theory methods, in particular dimensional analysis (Schatzman, 1991). Ethics approval was granted from the relevant university ethics committee. Other examples of cross cultural studies employing grounded theory in the wider literature will also be drawn on.

Results: A study employing grounded theory seeks to develop a theory that is grounded in the data. The researcher has to remain open to what emerges through the analysis rather than imposing pre-existing theory. In this way researchers can be open to what is heard or seen and to expose basic social processes no matter what cultural group the participants might come from. In the study of senior Asian immigrants contributing to New Zealand society, the outcome was a substantive theory of a basic social process ‘Strengthening Community’. The process captured the occupational experiences of the seniors living in a new culture.

Contribution to occupational science: Grounded theory, with its focus on process, and emphasis on the theory being grounded in the data appears to be under-utilised in occupational science. However, this paper reveals that it is an ideal methodology for cross cultural research and developing understandings of cross cultural occupations, needed for advancing the field of occupational science.

key words: grounded theory, cross-cultural, qualitative

References

Nayar, S. (2011a). Grounded theory: A research methodology for occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 19, 76-82. DOI:10.1080/14427591.2011.581626

Nayar, S., & Wright-St.Clair (in review). Strengthening community: Senior Asian immigrants at work in New Zealand. The Gerontologist.

Schatzman, L. (1991). Dimensional analysis: Notes on an alternative approach to the grounding of theory in qualitative research. In D. R. Maines (Ed.), Social organization and social process (pp. 303-314). New York: Aldine De Gruyter.

Yerxa, E.J., Clark, F., Frank, G., Jackson, J., Parham, D., Pierce, D., et al (1990). An introduction to occupational science: A foundation for occupational therapy in the 21st century. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 6, 1-7.

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Oct 17th, 11:05 AM Oct 17th, 11:35 AM

Cross-cultural research in occupational science: Exploiting the potential of grounded theory methodology

Hiawatha 2

Background: There have been growing calls for research within occupational science that is situated within contexts that better represent the diversity that makes up the world and occupational engagement. Currently the majority of occupational science research focuses on studies investigating the occupational processes of one particular cultural group. There are very few studies that look at the process of occupational engagement across cultures or in multiple cultural contexts.

Purpose: Nayar (2011) has argued for greater use of grounded theory methodology within occupational science and has shown that the methodology meets Yerxa et al’s (1990) specifications for the study of occupation. This paper focuses on how grounded theory methodology can be used by occupational scientists in studies to extend current understandings of occupation and to address the lack of diversity in occupational science research.

Methodology: This paper draws on findings from a grounded theory which explored how senior Chinese, Indian and Korean immigrants contribute to New Zealand society (Nayar & Wright-St.Clair, in review). Semi structured interviews and focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim for analysis using grounded theory methods, in particular dimensional analysis (Schatzman, 1991). Ethics approval was granted from the relevant university ethics committee. Other examples of cross cultural studies employing grounded theory in the wider literature will also be drawn on.

Results: A study employing grounded theory seeks to develop a theory that is grounded in the data. The researcher has to remain open to what emerges through the analysis rather than imposing pre-existing theory. In this way researchers can be open to what is heard or seen and to expose basic social processes no matter what cultural group the participants might come from. In the study of senior Asian immigrants contributing to New Zealand society, the outcome was a substantive theory of a basic social process ‘Strengthening Community’. The process captured the occupational experiences of the seniors living in a new culture.

Contribution to occupational science: Grounded theory, with its focus on process, and emphasis on the theory being grounded in the data appears to be under-utilised in occupational science. However, this paper reveals that it is an ideal methodology for cross cultural research and developing understandings of cross cultural occupations, needed for advancing the field of occupational science.

key words: grounded theory, cross-cultural, qualitative