Being, knowing, and doing: a phronetic approach to constructing grounded theory with Aboriginal Australian partners

Qual Health Res. 2013 Feb;23(2):275-88. doi: 10.1177/1049732312467853. Epub 2012 Dec 3.


Researchers working with Aboriginal Australian partners are confronted with an array of historical, social, and political complexities which make it difficult to come to theoretical and methodological decisions. In this article, we describe a culturally safe and respectful framework that maintains the intellectual and theoretical rigor expected of academic research. As an Aboriginal woman and two non-Aboriginal women, we discuss the arguments and some of the challenges of using grounded theory methods in Aboriginal Australian contexts, giving examples from our studies of Aboriginal empowerment processes. We argue that the ethics of care and responsibility embedded in Aboriginal research methodologies fit well with grounded theory studies of Aboriginal social processes. We maintain that theory development grounded in data provides useful insights into the processes for raising the health, well-being, and prosperity of Aboriginal Australians.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Australia / ethnology
  • Biomedical Research / ethics
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Power, Psychological
  • Research Design*
  • Social Behavior