The contextual researcher: celebrating ‘experiential alertness’ in grounded theory in prison research
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The contextual researcher: celebrating ‘experiential alertness’ in grounded theory in prison research

Stephan Kirby Senior Lecturer, Forensic Mental Health, School of Health and Social Care, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, UK

‘Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible’ Frank V Zappa.

In this paper, Stephan Kirby demonstrates and explores an approach to grounded theory research within the segregation unit of a high secure prison. The paper illustrates how he used ‘experiential alertness’ (EA) to promote the effective use of grounded theory. Experiential alertness is a term created to explain and explore the positive use and application of contextually developed experience and how this impacts dynamically on the research process being undertaken. In this sense it is considered to be experience and knowledge derived from and combined with the effects of a specific environment and context. The paper also explores how EA supports and complements Strauss and Corbin’s approach to grounded theory. As such, EA conforms to Annells’s (1996) belief that Strauss and Corbin’s techniques encourage the use of one’s own experience and acquired knowledge to advantage, rather than seeing it as an obstruction, although caution is advised that it should not block out seeing what is significant in the data

Nurse Researcher. 14, 2, 51-65. doi: 10.7748/nr2007.

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