Interviewer: Jane Gilgun
Date: 13 October, 1992
Respondent: Leonard Schatzman
[Tape 1, side 1]
J: This is 13th of October, Tape 1. I’m with Leonard Schatzman.
L: Right, right. Ok.
J: Ok. Well.
L: You have just an open format?
L: All right. Let’s go.
J: Yeah. In fact today what I’ve been struggling with, and maybe I can call on you a little bit. What I’ve been struggling with is, again, what’s the core idea of what I’m doing?
L: Of what you’re doing?
J: Of what I’m doing.
L: I don’t know what you’re doing.
J: Yeah, I know. (laugh)
L: You said something about you are conducting research, and now you’ve also said that you’re working with a group of qualitative research students.
J: Right. Well, professors and students.
J: Yeah, well we’re working together on our individual research.
L: Oh, I see what you mean. Ok. And you’re sharing information.
J: Right. We’re sharing our field notes as a way of learning—first of all, learning from each other, but also to get some additional insight into what we’re working with.
L: Tell me again, who are you and what’s your position.
J: Ok. Well, I’m Jane Gilgun. I’m a Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work.
L: Ok. Fine.
J: I’ve been doing qualitative analysis since about 1980. I was introduced to it by a professor who was trained in anthropology, but I wasn’t quite enamored of her approach, because it wasn’t theoretical enough for me, and – –
L: More descriptive.
J: It was much more descriptive, which is interesting in some cases, and important, but it wasn’t compelling enough. But it was interesting.
J: But I needed a method—,
J: To analyze the data, an approach to data. And I really found that symbolic interactionism, and not, unfortunately, not even a rigorous study of it, but some of the basic ideas of symbolic interactionism, plus the continual interplay between what I see or what I construct as part of the data, and more abstract concepts. You know, to clarify the concepts just is—I think it’s a natural process for me.
L: Hey, by the way – –
J: And so it fit. And that’s who I am.
L: Is it possible that you’re going to transcribe these notes?
J: Well, no. What I’m going to do is I’m going to have a coherent set of field notes that I’ll be taping.
L: Can I get a copy?
J: Of course.
L: All right.
J: I’d be glad to send you a copy.
L: Yeah, because sometimes I say something that I like, and I don’t want to sit here. I very often take a tape into the classroom, – –
L: Because I might say something that even surprises me.
L: You know what I mean?
J: And it’s nice to have a written history anyway.
L: Yeah, so even if you’re gonna make a precis of it, with convenient quotes here and there, I would appreciate it.
J: Well, what I’ll send you is what I’ll be typing up tonight, and then my – –
L: And for your colleagues.
J: (both laugh) Right. I don’t know if I want them to read all my field notes. I have a big stack.
L: Oh that’s all right. Ok.
J: But I would present the idea—.
L: I would appreciate a copy.
J: Oh, great.
J: So, my particular research area has been in human development and particularly in trying to understand how people cope with the effects of childhood adversity. Particularly child maltreatment, but also abandonment and frequent moves, and – –
J: That sort of thing.
L: All the hurts of childhood.
J: So I’ve—yeah, but I’ve been interviewing adults, so it’s been a life history method.
L: Fine, Ok.
J: I don’t have time to do a longitudinal study (laugh) – –
L: Yeah, that’s all right.
J: In this area. I have lots and lots of publications and have a pretty good reputation in social work as well as in the field of family studies.
L: That’s all right.
J: I haven’t published at all in sociology journals, though. I’m not really a sociologist, so. I publish where it’s been appropriate for my discipline. But I am just absolutely fascinated, and I think this is getting close to the central idea of what I’m doing. I’m absolutely fascinated by what I see as a real island of .. I don’t know what to call it, but a real island that you have had at the University of San Francisco, I mean the University of California.
L: Yeah, this is quite true. And – –
J: And that’s what I want to look at. What would we have done without all of you? I guess that’s one of my questions.
L: Yeah, Ok. all right.
J: Because my experience has been one of pretty serious isolation. And as I talk to other people, it’s almost—makes me cry when I think of somebody sitting on the floor reading a book on how to analyze qualitative data and then doing what the book says, you know, because we had no teachers.
L: Yeah, well, you know I told you the incident of meeting a student at a convention. And she said she was doing grounded theory, and I said who’s there working with you, and she says nobody, – –
L: I’m just <doing> it from the book. And I was astonished.
J: Well, you know, and that, to me, is part of the story. And I think—and I was thinking tonight, I ran and just did the dishes as a way of—I don’t know, I do dishes and get ideas at the same time. And I was thinking that what I’m really doing is—of doing a story. I’m writing a narrative, about how – –
L: That’s all right. That’s a good way to start.
J: About how one school of thought, and of course it’s a multi-dimensional school of thought, thrived, in a general atmosphere of, if not hostility, at least indifference.
J: And how all of you I think have lived long enough to see a lot of fruits of your work. And I think that as time goes on, it’s just going to be monumental.
L: Yeah. By the way, do you have access to the article I wrote for the Strauss festschrift?
J: Yeah, I just got through reviewing it again.
L: all right fine. Ok.
J: In fact I’ve read almost all of them now. So, – –
J: That’s what I’m looking at. I’m looking at the phenomena that you’ve participated in for the past, what is it, 28 years?
L: Yes. I was not party to the development. You’ll see that in my article. I mean Barney and Anselm got together and they worked it out over a year and a half, two years. And then they made their debut. (J laughs) You know, it was interesting. But anyway, so go ahead.
J: Well, in general, I mean you said a lot of things in your chapter, but what was it like for you? I mean, here you were. You had a little bit of a different status than almost all the people I’ve interviewed. I’ve interviewed mostly your students.
L: Well, who? Barbara?
J: I haven’t gotten to Barbara yet, but I did <Eleanor Shansky>, Evelyn Peterson, Shiz Fagerhaugh, Jeanne Quint Benoliel, – –
L: Yeah, well, Jean Quint, that was even pre-grounded theory. Strauss was in the process of developing it, and Jeanne Benoliel was in many ways a very good student, but also very frustrated, because Strauss had not yet completed the articulation of the method. So I used to meet with her and occasionally let her cry on my shoulder. (J laughs) And tried to explain Strauss, and even then at that time I wasn’t sure that I could.
J: Well, listen, as long as we’re talking confidentially,
J: And this is just for my own edification—Jean expressed some concern that she actually worked with Barney and Anselm on the formulation of grounded theory, but they didn’t include her as a co-author.
L: Aah, now that could be. I have no evidence to the contrary. I can accept that. It is entirely possible, and they may have minimized that.
J: Right. Because she said she was in on all the discussions.
L: Oh – –
J: Or she was in on the discussions. She doesn’t know if they were all the discussions, so I think they had discussions when she wasn’t there.
L: Oh, Ok. See I have no knowledge of that. That is possible.
J: Ok. Now that’s not anything that I necessarily want to put in the paper, but – –
L: No no no, you wouldn’t want to do that.
J: It would be hurtful, but – –
L: Yes, yes. That’s true.
J: But I was curious about that.
J: Ok. Let me tell you some of the other people. I interviewed <Kit Chelsea>–.
L: Yeah. Well, you know, she attended a couple of little debate/conferences that Strauss and I and, oh what the hell’s his name? Pat Benner, the nurse phenomenologically oriented methodologist.
J: Right. I’d kind of like to interview her too to get her – –
L: That’s all right.
J: To get her perspective.
L: That’s another kind of thing. But anyway, Kit may even have sat in on my – –
J: She did.
L: Fieldwork class—.
J: She did, and she studied with Anselm too. She studied with both of you.
L: Oh, Ok. So she has some kind of a line on <things>.
J: Right, she does, but she doesn’t consider herself a grounded theorist.
L: No, no, she’s not a true believer.
J: No. The other people I interviewed were Margaret Sandelowsky—and she wasn’t a student, but she was influenced by your work.
J: And then Margaret Bull.
J: Margaret Bull is a nurse researcher in Minnesota, and she studied with a student of Howie Becker. But she said that she really is indebted to the work of, well, of the San Francisco school.
L: all right. Ok.
J: And then Pat Tomlinson, who is also a nurse researcher. She’s outside the mainstream altogether.
J: Almost. She’s a sympathizer, though, and so she gave me another perspective at least within nursing. So. It’s those kinds of <interviews>. Of course I interviewed Shiz for, you know, for a whole weekend.
L: Yeah, well, you know, when I first came to San Francisco, neither Strauss nor I had grounded theory. He came in ’60 and I came in ’61. He was able to get money for me to—soft money—to run a research training program for post- master psychiatric nurses.
J: Yeah. You know, I asked Shiz about that. What, uh–.
L: She was in on that.
J: Right. She was, but what agency gave those?
L: Oh, a nurses training branch of NIMA.
J: Ok. Nurses training branch.
L: And those were the 60s, we could easily get money. So I ran this. I remember Shiz one time, a couple years after she finished the program, she made common cause with Anselm, cause he produced the grounded theory, and then she became a grounded theorist. But one day she came to me and said, you know, your program—two years of research training, was really excellent, except that it was frustratingly atheoretical. (J laughs) And you know, probably so, at least relative to where I am now. I didn’t know what I was doing in the same sense that I know now what I’m doing. And in the history of qualitative research, most researchers didn’t—couldn’t quite articulate the method. You know, if you ask the great professor where did you get that concept, he or she would mumble. And the story goes, that well, if you come study with me for a couple years you’ll see. And sure enough the student hangs around for a couple years and then says, oh I see. But then that person becomes a professor, and the student says how did you get this concept, and she says, well, study with me for two years and you’ll see. And it’s been that way, I think, historically. That’s how I represent it. So that there’s been no true articulation. As a matter of fact, I would say that Glaser and Strauss made a contribution, not only in terms of providing an articulate method, but in fact challenged everybody else to articulate their method. (J laughs) And so that is a great contribution. By pushing us all into making methodological commitments, which historically we did not do.
L: all right.
J: How did you meet Anselm?
L: Well, oh we go way back. I was Anselm’s student.
J: Oh, you were?
L: In 1946, he got his first university teaching job at Indiana. And I was his first graduate student. In 1946 I came out of the army, – –
J: I didn’t know that.
L: And ran into him, and I had no—oh, I didn’t major in sociology, I majored in history. I had taken some sociology courses before the war, and I thought they were just dreadful. And so I was going to be a psychiatric social worker.
J: Oh, no. That’s great.
L: So when I came out of the army I went back to Indiana, and I was an Indiana undergraduate before Anselm Strauss. I had taken a course in criminology with Edwin Sutherland, and I was wandering around the halls of the social science building on my way out to California to try to get into the University of California and become a psychiatric social worker. I didn’t know what it was, but it sounded nice. At any rate, he met me in the halls, and he said—I was still in uniform—he didn’t recognize me, but he said, what are you doing here? And I told him I just got out of the army and I was coming to visit with some history professors. And I couldn’t find those that I wanted to talk with. So then he asked me if I had any experience with the black market—the way the GIs operated on the black market. And I said yes, some. (J laughs) I had a lot of black market money with me. So he says, would you mind if I interviewed you. And I said Ok. So he took me into his office, and I stayed there for three hours. Afterwards, he offered me an assistantship, and I said no, I’m not going into sociology. There’s nothing in it for me. And I left, and went out to California, and I couldn’t get into any school because I wasn’t a state resident. And all the GIs had poured back into their own state universities, so I couldn’t get a place. And in desperation, I became a sociologist. So that’s that story. And I met with Strauss and Lindesmith, who were both Chicago school, and if I had any theory, it was really Adlerian psychology. So, under Strauss’s tutelage, he slowly but surely edged me over to interactionism. And so, in that sense, Strauss is my mentor. Ok?
J: What a nice story.
L: And then, working together, he didn’t gain tenure at University of Chicago, so he was able to—he met with Roy Grinker, who was a psychiatrist, former head of the American Psychoanalytic Association. And Grinker was a big wheel in Illinois, and was able to get some money, and he asked Strauss at a cocktail party, I think, what would you do with a half a million dollars? And Strauss sort of laid it out for him, and then Strauss got hired—was offered the money to do research into private and state hospitals in the Chicago area. So Strauss—by that time I had gotten a job at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (J laughs). That was my first teaching job. And I taught there for four years. Strauss called me and said listen, I want you and Rue Bucher—do you know the name?
L: I want you and Rue Bucher to come join me in three years of research. And I gave up the teaching job and joined him, and that’s when I met Rue, who was his student at the University of Chicago, in later years. So he had three of his students join him for three years of research into psychiatric institutions. And that’s where we sorta learned field research, even though we had read a great deal about it, none of us really did it. We had interviewed, and we did qualitative work, but nothing quite like that. And we even wrote a chapter on methodology, which I don’t recommend. And while we wrote a great book, the chapter on method was not all that hot. Ok?
L: So that’s my relationship with Strauss. And then, of course, he brought me out to the University of California. He came out a year early, and I remained with Rue Bucher in Chicago finishing up the work. We shared the writing labor. And then Strauss got this soft money and I joined him in San Francisco. And so we’ve kept our relationship up since. So it goes back a long way.
J: It’s wonderful.
J: So he was your professor at Indiana you said.
J: What courses did you take with him there?
L: Well, the usual. Social psychology courses—God, I don’t remember the names of courses. For the most part in the post war period there were something like seven professors and ten students right after World War II. And so, there were classes, but by and large they were just continuing seminars.
L: For the most part. It was just talk talk talk, you know. And this is how I learned sociology. I read, and then I talked to him about it. But I took the usual courses, I don’t know, # , anthropology, and language. I minored also in anthropology and psychology. But I was never really intrigued with sociology until I bought the pragmatic interactionism that Strauss led me to. Ok? So I don’t remember courses other than just general social science.
J: So, you see, I’m tracing the development of the method, and one of the things I’ve learned from interviewing other people who went to the University of Chicago—I interviewed Helena Lopata and Gerry Handel who were in Chicago around the same time that Anselm was. And they said there were no methods courses at all.
L: No, that’s right. Even at the University of California on the Berkeley campus there was nothing. Those students just desperately wanted to come into our classes. We had too many students, so we’d give first preference to San Francisco campus students. And we simply don’t take Berkeley students. And much to their chagrin and frustration.
J: This is now, right now.
L: This is even now.
J: Yeah, you know, I think it was Kit who told me about that, and that—you know, here I am, hanging out on a limb, so to speak, in the middle of the country. And when she told me that I thought this is such a tragedy.
L: # a crime, yes.
J: I mean, that the people who are really trained to do it, who brought the method along, there just aren’t enough of you.
L: No, that’s quite true, and we’re really highly concentrated. The other thing is that we’re in a department that’s devoted much to health and as well as to research. And so many of our courses deal with chronic illness and things of that sort. I had no particular interest in health either, so it fell to me to teach both sociological theory, which I never, I never became a theoretician, but I taught it anyway. (J laughs) And # methodology. Cause I was the one consistent person who taught field research. By the way, Strauss did not teach field research.
J: What did he teach?
L: He always taught qualitative analysis. The idea being that students would, in the fieldwork course, learn how to go out, in the fashion of, let’s say, as if they were taught by Robert Park at the University of Chicago in 1920. Go out and get your data, and let’s bring the data back, and let’s talk about it. And so Strauss, and Glaser, did not teach field research. They had students bring data in. And then they did their theoretical work with the data that students brought in. But I spent most of my time teaching students what data was. And so it’s a very different approach, and the book I’m writing now pays a lot of attention to things that Glaser and Strauss did not pay attention to.
J: I know I was fascinated by what you said, about students learning the method.
L: Well, you know, they had a mixed bag. I don’t think Strauss would like to hear that, but the fact is that the method he teaches and Glaser teaches, is very, very difficult. It’s simply not easy to grasp. And so students stay on quarter after quarter after quarter, hopefully, waiting to get it as an insight. Oh, I see. You know, after about four or five quarters. Even though the curriculum calls for just one or two quarters. But by now, you know, Glaser and Strauss—Glaser’s not with us, but those two guys had developed it to such an extent that they were very quickly analytic, and it took them a long time to teach an analytic posture. You know what I mean?
L: And so, but they’ve had some excellent successes, but also failures I think, which they don’t really acknowledge, anyway.
L: What else?
J: Well, you know, Shiz, when I talked to her – –
L: Now see Shiz already, Shiz is one of those who knows grounded theory. And I think one thing is important for you to know, and that is that although everyone understands that Strauss—Glaser and Strauss have developed a methodology, or a method, Strauss doesn’t like that word method. He would rather, and he writes it into his books now and then, to the effect that it’s not a method, but a way of thinking. And he holds to that. Because method would indicate steps 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in some kind of sequence. Whereas Glaser and Strauss are saying everything is theorizing. You know, whether you’re gathering data or not. For me, in the fieldwork class, with perfectly adult students asking me how to write a field note, what is a datum—you know, singular in Latin. They’ve given that up, they all say data is. But data are plural. And I used to spend time with students in Field Research saying you have to know what a datum is. It is a unit of information. And it has parameters. And you don’t have a datum—you can’t have a kind a diarrhea of the mouth or the typewriter and have data that are not paragraphed or sentenced or anything else. You would have to be doing a lot of different kind of work. So I paid attention to minutiae, with respect to, you know, what are you talking about. But Glaser and Strauss didn’t do that, and they held to a wide open mode of grasping the meaning and the nature of the conversation in interviews. And just taking out any clause and phrase, or word, and making something of it, irrespective of anything else. And you know, they worked it out pretty well. So, in a way, I’m not putting it down, I’m just saying that I was doing a different kind of job.
J: Well, you know, I’m doing some of the same things you’re doing. And a sort of a self-appointed task. I’ve written several articles about data analysis, and what I was trying to do was to tell people how to take field notes, you know, how to write them up.
L: That’s right. But Strauss never taught that.
J: Well, I remember, though, talking to another student when I was a student, and I was gathering open ended interview data, and I said what do I do with it? How do I handle it?
L: How do you even write it down?
J: Right, how do I manage it?
L: That’s right.
J: Yeah, how do I make sense of it?
L: You’ve seen my fieldwork text? My field research text? 1973.
J: I did a long time ago, but I haven’t looked at it lately.
L: Oh all right. Well, there’s a story behind that.
J: Yeah, I’d like to hear it.
L: Strauss and I are co-authors. It was about 1968-69, just after grounded theory had come out, that a publisher came by and took me out of my office and asked me what I was doing, and I said well, I teach # . And he said how long have you taught? And I said, well, you know, several years now. And he says why don’t you write a book on it? And I said, eh, no, I don’t want to bother. Cause I’m not a—not into publication very much. At any rate, Strauss, by chance, walked in. We chat all the time. And he heard this transaction going on, and he said Lennie, why don’t you go ahead and do it? And I said, well, I have this—if you wanta do it with me, I’ll take a crack at it. So Strauss said yes. And he said, well look, I’m going off on sabbatical to Europe for a year, and why don’t you do a first draft? So before he left we sat down and wrote out a number of chapter headings, and discussed what kinds of material would go into each chapter, and then he up and left. And our usual mode of cooperation was that I would do the first draft, he would get it, and then he would sort of butcher it up, reconstitute it, and then hand it back to me, and then I would do something with it. Back and forth until we got tired of it, or felt it was finished, then we’d publish it. And that was our usual approach. So, over the year he—he was in Europe—and I wrote the first draft. And there’s a story about the chapter on analysis, because I didn’t want to do grounded [end of Tape 1, side 1]
[Tape 1, side 2 ]
I thought constituted a kind of failure. Because if you read my article in the festschrift, you’ll notice that I place great store on naturalistic analysis.
J: Right. I loved it.
R: I knew that adults were already doing exquisite analysis. Sort of haphazardly, to be sure, but sometimes quite brilliantly without even knowing how they arrived at any conclusion. And so I thought I could write a whole book so that every sentence that a student read, the student would comment to him or her self, saying, yes, of course, naturally. And so that every word, nothing was a surprise in that book. At any rate, I couldn’t find a natural way in the analysis paper, and I didn’t want to copy Strauss. At any rate, Strauss came back from Europe and he took the draft, and he kept it for a couple of weeks and he read it, and he came back to me, and he said, you know Lennie, this book is divine. There’s nothing I can do with it. It’s all you, and it’s all excellent. Publish it as it is. Oh, I think he added maybe one or two paragraphs. So I said, Ans, you know, the chapter on analysis is dreadful. I would defend all the other chapters. You know, they’re sort of thin and interesting, but it’s true, they’re well written. But the chapter on analysis, I just simply pasted some things together, and I don’t like it. Ironically, I got a lot of good fan mail for just that chapter. (J laughs) But I was disgusted with myself, because I felt I had failed. So he and I had a kind of an argument. He said Lennie, if I re-wrote the chapter on analysis, it would fall in with grounded theory, and it would be inconsistent with all the other chapters. So therefore—and since grounded theory is a commitment for me, I can’t help you fashion any other way, because grounded theory, for me, is the only way. And I argued with him, I said Ans, you know, I never thought I would ever hear anything like that from you, that there’s only one way of doing something. You don’t really believe that. He said Lennie, it’s the only way to go. We argued and argued, and finally—oh I think I didn’t talk with him for about a month. Cause I was so disappointed in him. At any rate, later on, in disgust I said all right, let the book go as it is. I failed, and Anselm failed me. So, rather than take his name off the book, since he was my mentor and a great friend, and I owe him a great deal, I left his name on. In any case, his name is more famous and more well known than mine, and I figured it would sell the book better, and it probably has for that reason. So, that’s the story of that book.
J: So, let me just make sure I understood what you said about the authorship. So you didn’t send it back and forth over the ocean.
L: No, no. He added maybe one paragraph to the whole book. He inserted a couple of sentences in the introduction or the preface, to the effect that Schatzman wrote the book. You see. And I took total responsibility for it. And I was very unhappy with myself, because I thought that I had failed on the – –
J: I’m going to have to go look at it.
L: Analytical chapter. What?
J: I’m going to have to go look at it.
L: Yeah. I failed, because I had not yet discovered my own approach. And I wallowed around for several years until one day, in a classroom—let’s see, when? Ooh, somewhere in the late 70s, teaching master’s students, no less, I brought in a tape, and I asked them a question about—you know, you’re nurses, all of you. There were about eight or nine nursing students only. How do you go out and find a job? How do you know whether to accept one if it’s offered? And then they went through a whole series of things, like well, if I could be the kind of professional I want, if the philosophy of the institution is consistent with my philosophy, and, if I could have freedom to move about. So what I did without realizing it, was I dimensionalized those into philosophical compatibility, role autonomy, and whatever else. And then I said what other—I didn’t use the word dimension. I said what—on the tape I hear myself say—what considerations do you bring to bear? Oh, it’s in the article, right?
J: Yeah, it is.
L: Ok. I’ve already written it. So that’s a repeat. At any rate, when I took the tape home and I heard, as I said, you mean salary, shift—god only knows—parking, neighborhood. And when I heard them on the tape saying of course, naturally, sure, it hit me like a ton of bricks that what I had done was used the word consideration for what I had later come to see as dimensions of experience. And that turned me on, and from then on, I began teaching grounded theory, not in terms of open coding, but in terms of the question what all is involved here? If people define situations that they say in interaction sociology, then it occurred to me that a definition is the outcome of an analysis, and that an analysis cannot have occurred without having dimensionalized some complex phenomenon, and brought those dimensions into some kind of configuration, which then gives you the perspective that you’re taking and everything borders itself then. You see. So, that’s what I’ve developing, that’s what I’m writing a book on now in great detail. Anyway. So, that’s the basic story of my discovery. I wrote a lengthy memo in 1980, which I dared give to Strauss. And I’m even astonished at what I wrote, then. It’s written almost in stilted 19th century format as a series of propositions about the nature of mind and thought and analysis. And Strauss, who’s usually two steps ahead of me—of any student. He smiles a lot when he picks up some student’s work. But when he read this he was absolutely straight-faced. And I thought, oh my God, it must be dreadful. But he looked up at me and he says, you know? This is really something. And you ought to write this up immediately. Well here it is ’92 and I haven’t. And then he said something like this, which knocked me over—he says, you know, you’ve picked up where John Dewey left off.
L: So, I said, well all right. So in any case, he’s been encouraging me all along to write up this particular approach to grounded theory. It’s somewhat similar to grounded theory, and yet in some critical ways, it is different. Anyway. What else do you want to know?
J: Well, well when I read about dimensional analysis, maybe because I tend to think, I think, in some of the ways that you were describing, or I’ve learned to think that way, I’m not sure. I think it’s a little of both, to try to see as many aspects of a situation as I can.
L: Yeah. You know, the point I’m trying to make in this book I’m writing, and I may fail, but the point I’m going to try to make, is this—that in fact—see, I’m not advocating a method in this book. I am saying that if you cannot dimensionalize something, you cannot ask the question. If you can’t dimensionalize, you cannot do analysis. So that every code really stems from or is rooted in some kind of dimension that you have constructed. And that, in fact, you are doing dimensional analysis, no matter what you call it. You may not end up being theoretical, and there are other things that you do besides dimensionalizing, but I’m saying that there is no way to proceed except through some kinds of abstractions, concepts, which, in analytic situations, become dimensions of a larger situation. You know what I mean?
L: So if you use the term professional, and it is a concept. It is only a concept. It is not a dimension until such time as you group professional with other such concepts, which become components of a larger configuration, which tells you what all is involved. See what I mean?
J: I think so. I think I do.
L: You know, the article I wrote for the festschrift, in some sense is another failure. Because many people who have read it don’t quite comprehend it. Don’t appreciate it. And I take that as my fault. So the book I’m writing is an elaboration of all that I’m saying, and that’s harder. I was confined to 30 pages or so, and there was a limit to what I could do. I wouldn’t have done it, as a matter of fact, except that one of my students, <Mary Anne McCarthy> at Ohio State, she rode herd on me, and practically whipped me, and stood by me, and literally forced me to write the goddamned thing. So I # the Strauss to write for his festschrift, and that’s what I finally ended up. And—. Anyway, that’s #. What else do you want to know?
J: Well, .. there are so many directions I want to go. Why don’t I do something that’s a little self-serving. Do you mind?
J: Ok. If I were to apply the ideas of dimensional analysis to what I’m doing, you know, trying to understand the environment that you created in terms of helping to develop a method and then to see the diffusion of that method throughout the country, would it be a dimensional analysis if I talked about all the elements that supported your work as well as the challenges that threatened to undermine it? And if I interviewed different people who had different statuses at different times, people who were directly involved with you, and the other faculty members, and people who weren’t—cause that’s what I’m doing. And I don’t know if you would call that dimensional analysis or not.
L: Well, you could do that. You could, well, you know, Strauss would say for grounded theory everything is analyzable if it’s in the human sphere and involves action and process.
J: Right. But what I conceive of what was going on with all of you out there, like, uh, remember – –
L: Well, we were arguing all around.
J: Oh, yeah.
L: Well, let me tell you a story.
L: A very important story. Uh, Glaser was in the department. He never got tenure, and so that’s why he – –
J: Oh, I didn’t know that. Nobody told me that!
L: Yeah, he never got tenure. (J laughs) He was in the school of nursing, and the nursing faculty didn’t even know he existed. And he didn’t pay his dues in the school of nursing. He served on no committees, etcetera, etcetera. So when Strauss engineered tenure for the rest of us, Fred Davis, Virginia Olesen, and myself. And Barney was up for the next hard money, the dean turned him down. And so Barney drifted away. Now—.
J: Was that Dean Naum still?
L: No. This was another dean. At any rate—that’s just part of the story, it’s not all that relevant. At any rate, Barney was still with the department at the time, waiting for his tenure, and he had a class in which he taught analysis. So the students went from my fieldwork class, with their basic data, and he taught them how to do it. Ok? So I was working with a woman student, and she was interested in how psychiatric residents learned their trade. And she was—while she was in my class—and we worked out a way of interviewing the residents at Langley-Porter Institute, which is on our campus, and she proceeded then to interview the residents. And .. by that time it was the end of the first year, and she was doing, you know, nicely. We still weren’t done. I had no dimensional analysis in mind at the time, but I recognized that I was pulling together all the different facets in the life of the resident. At any rate, she said, well Lennie, you know, I can’t work with you, cause now I’m in Barney’s analysis class, and I’m working with him. So I said well that’s all right, you know, that’s the way it is here at UC. You work with whoever you could work with. So at any rate—at that time we were giving master’s degrees, and she wrote up a master’s paper on the basis of her research with the residents. And it was nothing like what she and I had discussed. But a year later, when she emerged from that analysis class, # Barney was very intense. He had taught no more than eight students, and—that was his maximum. And he had them all working on each other’s data. And he sort of pushed them towards finding basic social processes. At any rate, and this is a critical story— this student finished her master’s paper and it contained the core of ideas that Glaser had helped her reach. And she gave me a copy, and she gave Fred Davis a copy. You know Fred Davis?
J: I know his work.
L: all right. Fred Davis was really phenomenologically oriented, he was no grounded theorist, he was just a plain old-fashioned sociologist. And did very bright, insightful sociology, with no particular references to the method of how he reached his conclusions. But did good sociology nevertheless. Who else? Oh, there was Barney Glaser, and myself, and Fred Davis constituted this student’s master’s committee.
J: Wait a minute. It was Barney, Davis, you?
L: Barney, Davis and me.
J: The three of you.
L: She gave me a copy and she dropped a copy off with Fred Davis, and she undoubtedly gave a copy to Barney Glaser. And the story goes like this. I looked at it, I read it. It was oh, you know, a 40 – 50 page paper. And I looked at it and I thought, oh God, this is really weak. At any rate, Fred Davis walked in to my office, and he said, by the way, did you read so-and-so’s paper? And I said yeah, matter of fact I just finished it. And he says, tell me what you think of it honestly. So I said, well, you know, I’m hemming and hawing, and—always had self-doubts—so I said well, you know, I’m not really impressed by it, it’s sort of weak. So he looked at me, and he says, you’re being much too kind. It’s shit. So, the next day I’m up at the coffee pot drawing a cup of coffee, and Barney Glaser walks over for coffee too. And he says to me, exactly, I can quote. He says did you read so-and-so’s paper? Wasn’t it wonderful? And so I thought, oh my God, wonderful? Not so good. Shit. (J laughs) # this is interesting. So I get to Anselm Strauss, I said Ans, you remember when we were sitting around dreaming up what kind of a sociology program we would develop (J laughs) ##. He asked how are we going to rate the students? How are we going to reach consensus? And Ans says, even before he wrote the book on negotiated order, he says, Lennie, that’s a silly question, after all I’ve taught you. There’s no way you can set up standards in advance. We’ll have to learn as we go. We’ll argue. We’ll negotiate what we mean by excellence. And I said, Ok, that suits me. It was in line with interactionist sociology. So, I go to him, and I say Ans, you remember (J laughs) we had this discussion? And he says, no I don’t. And I said, well, we did. Take it from me. So I said now I’m giving you this theoretical problem here. So-and-so just handed in her paper. Barney says, wasn’t it wonderful? And I said it was so-so, kinda weak, and Fred Davis said it was shit. Now this is a perfect (J laughs) case for us to work on.
J: The perfect what?
L: A case. This is a case study. And, you know, attributes. I mean, what the hell is a paper? How good is good? How shitty is shitty? (J laughs) So, he takes the paper home, and then he says to me about a week later, he says by the way I read so-and-so’s paper. And you know, I must say, I thought it was quite good. I said, Ans, you missed the point. Now we have a range from one to five, quite good, so-so, to shit. (J laughing) You haven’t solved the problem. He didn’t get the point, because by this time I think he was committed to grounded theory. And anyone who followed grounded theory, you know, he felt good about. And so I never raised that question with him again.
L: Never. And you know, we’re on good terms. I mean I’m not going to argue with him over grounded theory, because it’s a commitment.
L: So anyway, that’s a classic story, and it may be til the end of time. Things like that never get resolved. You know. But you know, she got her master’s degree because the head of her committee said it was wonderful, so.
J: Well what do you—how do you account for this range?
L: I don’t know. Different perspectives.
J: Right, but—.
L: You know, in my article, I say perspective is everything.
J: It sure is, but—.
L: And – –
J: But isn’t there a certain basic kind of thing that you communicate that indicates whether or not – –
L: Well, you can communicate from now until doomsday. This is what happens if you read Strauss and Bucher’s article on .. oh, what is it, the social movement within certain fields of medicine, where colleagues get to argue with each other, and certain people just break off from the central crowd, what is normal, and then they set up their own branch of whatever. And people come to them, and they organize their own little group. You know.
J: Right, but how about now, or say in the last ten years, when you and Anselm were on the same committees. Did you agree?
L: Well, when I’m on the same committee with Anselm—now look, when you get a very good piece of work, it almost doesn’t matter what method was used. I mean, you recognize excellence, sort of, I think. And that would be closer to being universal. But as soon as you get papers that have other qualities that many people regard of lesser value, then the configuration within the analysis—and this is evaluative analysis, takes on this different set of dimensions. And, as I just said, if the perspective is, did this student follow grounded theory? The answer would be yes. She did. And that, in my view, led Strauss and Glaser to say it was a good paper. To Fred Davis, grounded theory was concept coinage. These are, I don’t know how to describe that. But you just simply invent terms that suit you, you add ing, and you call it a process. (J laughs) Now these are basic, basic differences, and I’m telling you about divergencies within the department that, perhaps you as an outsider, see as a department that had great consensus.
J: Well, I knew it didn’t.
L: Well, it didn’t, no. Virginia Olesen doesn’t teach grounded theory. We all buy grounded theory in its philosophical message, which is that theory ought to emerge from data and not from prior or received knowledge. That is an important contribution that Glaser and Strauss made. You understand?
L: But how to do it, you know, is a different story. So at any rate, we got this enormous diversion. So I served on committees with Strauss. We—I now take the grounded theory role, and I’m perspective when I work with Anselm and some students. And I withhold my own view, of how it might better have been done. And you know, better is from my perspective. Ok?
L: But these questions of evaluation are not resolved unless everybody in the discussion, in the negotiation, more or less accepts the perspective and the criteria for excellence. To the extent that we never did, to that extent you get great divergence. So for the most part, those who disagreed simply went along with the chair of the committee. For the most part. Sometimes we objected. But you know, when a paper is really bad, I think, then you also get consensus. Or if it’s very good. In the middle, or if it’s a mediocre paper, you get dissensus, and people are more or less willing to argue. And to the extent that we’d been together for a long time, we do argue, but marginally, and not with any great intensity. So even though Fred Davis thought it was a dreadful paper, he passed it. And so the student got a master’s degree.
J: So from your point of view, what could she have done to make it better?
L: Well, I would see on the side of Fred Davis’s view, that what she picked up as basic social processes, were just commonsense categories, and that they shed no particular light, and added nothing to sociological theory. They were just ordinary, commonsensical terms.
J: But how could she have added to sociological theory?
L: Well, she would have paid some attention to the extent to which a theory is enhanced or bypassed in this paper. You see, Barney Glaser would teach his students that—and I half agree, that students should not read, particularly, on the subject that they were researching, for fear of being made captive of the prevailing theory in the field. Because if they did allow themselves that, then they would read into the data the usual—status, role, organization, and so on, and simply copy what is standard theoretical conception and apply it to the data. So he told students, don’t read research on your subject matter, until you have attempted a first formulation for yourself, as if there were no sociology. And when you have reached a kind of an impasse, you can’t jog yourself—you know what I mean?
L: Then you read, because you already have a mind of your own, and you’re not easily influenced by the so-called experts who’d written before you. Then you can argue with them and even do comparative analyses of their analyses as against yours. And you might pick up something, and you might not. But in any case, you would have avoided being made captive of prevailing theory. And that’s the way you maintain your independence as a grounded theorist. And that’s what he used to tell the students. And you know, many of the nursing students, who learned from positivistic methodologists that you read everything first, develop a hypothesis and then go test it, [end of Tape 1, side 2]
[Tape 2, side 1]
gave them freedom, and they felt it. And then they produced their work in line with the Glaser style propositions. And you know, you put in your thumb, and you pull out a plum and you say what a good girl am I. And your professors say it’s fine. And so you feel like you’ve done it. Because you have more or less followed the method of grounded theory. And, if it enhances knowledge, then that’s really great. But even if it doesn’t, you have demonstrated a kind of competency in following a method. You understand?
J: Yeah. I don’t agree. I should have been out there.
L: What do you mean?
J: I don’t agree with that perspective in—. I don’t think that following a method means that—means anything.
L: Oh, yeah, but you’ll notice that there’s a lot of crap that comes out of positive any kind of method. There’s a lot of junk. But then people are given Ph.D.’s by virtue of having demonstrated competence in research, without any special reference to any contribution to knowledge. The journals are loaded with articles that are inane, and are written just for publication purposes. That do not add to understanding. They sort of maybe confirm normal theory, but they’re not contributions, really. So that’s the position I take, and then I remain a skeptic right to the very end.
J: But you know my understanding of, maybe we can talk about what grounded theory is, because my understanding of grounded theory is is certainly it may be a set of procedures, but it’s certainly a flexible set of procedures. That’s why I like it so much. There’s no formula. But part of the procedure is making theoretical sense out of what you’re doing, and if you don’t make theoretical sense, you’re not doing it.
L: Ok. On the other hand, what is there to insure that the theoretical material that is generated is sense or nonsense?
J: Well, it has to be sense. (laughs)
L: Well, it has to be sense. But it—does it have value, is the next question.
L: You understand? It still calls for an evaluation. There’s no ultimate Rosetta stone that tells you that any particular conception is in fact superior. You can come out with something really very dull, but you have done your mathematics, or your theorizing very well.
J: But there’s an imagination and creativity – –
L: What? Still someone has to say this is a creative piece of work, regardless of method. I don’t know, you know, are we talking together, or—?
J: I don’t know. I think so.
L: There’s any number of articles that, you know, people write or books even, and you could see that there have been years of work in it. And you read through it, and in 20 minutes, in terms of naturalistic analysis, you give it a naturalistic evaluative analysis, and you say, oh this is crap. Now, whatever led you to say it is crap? Here these people did such fantastic work, I mean they worked so hard for three years. .. And they came up with something that’s published, and nobody ever refers to again. But, methodologically, they did a bang up job. So what?
J: See, my point of view would be, that they didn’t do a good job methodologically if it has no significance. Cause part of the method is—I mean you can’t really separate the method from the finding or the substance.
L: Yeah, well that’s right. Now the point is, like when Strauss and I and Rue Bucher did our work in Chicago—I don’t know whether you’re familiar with the book Psychiatric Ideologies and Institutions.
J: I wish I were. I’ve certainly read enough references to it.
L: Well, we’re all very proud of it, because it’s pure sociology. It’s just beautiful, I think. And now, at the conclusion of that, Strauss is brilliant. He reaches a conclusion that he reads a theory of negotiated order. And then he has written on negotiated order since. But it grew out of our Chicago psychiatric studies. Now that’s a contribution to knowledge.
L: How many different ways can you achieve order? And in the interactionist edition, he comes up with the conception of a negotiated order. Fantastic. That was to his everlasting credit that he coined the term. Ok? That’s a contribution. But it need not have been that. That still took somebody to conceptualize the right way of putting it together. Otherwise it could have been some other conception that had none of the power, explanatory power, that this one did. So when you sit in a class with Strauss, and you hear the students telling Strauss what they think the central process is, of any set of data, he leads them into finding significance beyond what they thought originally was a good central concept to follow. He tells them, you’re not gonna go anywhere with that concept. It is a process, but what is it gonna bring you? And he gets the students to see that certain conceptions have greater power than others. Which a student may not have realized. Do you understand?
L: Now we’re getting at a way of teaching excellence, because you’re telling the student in what direction they’re going, and you’re forcing them to conclude that it enhances knowledge, as against confirms it or as against, you know, has no particular value. It’s a commonsense term that doesn’t really make much difference. Now that’s not given in grounded theory.
J: That’s what?
L: Hopefully through grounded theory you will find that grand concept, but it doesn’t follow that you will. That will help explain why Fred Davis called that student’s paper shit. Because he saw a process. It was named, and he said, my God, this is so inane, so mundane, so commonsensical it has no value. You know what I mean?
L: I mean, thinking is a process too. And it’s profound, but it’s also mundane if it’s not given some richness and some very special context. That’s very difficult to teach, you see. But grounded theory doesn’t guarantee that at all. I mean it’s not like planting a petunia and you’re gonna get a petunia. Because you planted a petunia seed. But you don’t know what kind of a flower you planted, you see. And that’s the problem. And grounded theory is, in expert hands, is a very, very good tool. But it certainly doesn’t guarantee anything. And that’s why Strauss will fall back and say, now look, I don’t guarantee that if you follow grounded theory you will be doing brilliant research. Because some students do not have it. No matter what you teach them. Quarter after quarter after quarter. We had one of our students, and she sat—she sat in his class I would say for six quarters, over and over and over again. Finally, she did a dissertation. And I was very, very anxious, cause I would talk with her frequently, and she seemed very bright, she seemed to have a grasp. I waited for her dissertation with great anticipation. And when the dissertation came out, she had her chapter on method—I was just terribly disappointed.
J: Oh, no.
L: You see? Well, she didn’t have it. Strauss thought it wasn’t all that bad. And so I have my own private views.
J: Now what didn’t she do?
J: What didn’t she do in her method chapter?
L: Well, she had some processes, but she didn’t tell how she got them. And the one thing about grounded theory, # again, is praiseworthy, is that, it is incumbent on the researcher not only to present a theory, or around some process that goes on, and the conditions under which that process occurs, with certain consequences. But rather, that you divulge the steps leading up to the discovery of that process. And so many of the dissertations just simply have a chapter on methodology in which a student mumbles something, I used grounded theory and I did this and that, and it’s a very thin chapter—even Strauss now recognizes it. And occasionally he’s floored and certainly disappointed when a student does not divulge how the process changed his or her thinking. And that is the great challenge, you see.
J: Oh, wow. Yeah. This is really interesting. So if you simply say I did a grounded theory study this is what I found. That’s not enough.
L: Yeah, and you tell a good story. And in a sense, it may be very, very impressive. I mean, there was good sociology before grounded theory. I mean people wrote brilliant things, but they never told how they arrived at – –
J: Well, I didn’t realize—I mean like I wrote something .. that I wrote, gee, about four years ago when I was a lot less knowledgeable than I am now, and that’s what I did. But I was explaining to a social work audience hypothesis generation. I wanted to show how I developed a hypothesis—a couple of hypotheses I think—about the development of violent behavior. And what I did is I – –
L: The development of violent behavior?
J: Yeah. And what I did is I shared my thinking over, you know, a year’s time, based on my interpretation of data, and linking some to previous research and theory. But I didn’t realize that—is that how you write up grounded theory?
L: Well, yeah. In the methodology, it seems to me, it’s incumbent on you, since you’ve done grounded theory and it is a witting method that’s important.
J: It’s a what method?
J: A what kind?
J: How do you spell it?
L: I don’t like the word conscious. I use the word – –
J: Oh, witting, w-i-t-t.
L: Yes. It is a witting method. You’re supposed to show the reader, not only the concept that’s central, whether you want to call it basic social process, it doesn’t matter, how you arrived at it. You see. That is a triumph. Not only that you have a method that contributes to knowledge, but that you can show how you did it. This is why positivists are fit to be tied when they meet up with qualitative analysts who, however brilliant they are, fail to show how they reached their conclusions. You understand? Positivists want to know, you know, that’s why they use numbers and statistics, so that through some kind of a formula, a way of dealing with the data, you sustain a hypothesis.
J: Well don’t you think that .. that it’s almost a—. Like when I did it, that one article where I showed my thinking process, I felt, I didn’t feel exactly embarrassed, but I felt like I was showing my underwear in public in a way. I mean, that’s much too strong, but what I’m – –
L: No, that’s a real challenge, to show how you arrived at a conclusion.
J: Well I was opening myself up to, you know, all kinds of potential criticisms. You know, well boy she thinks in a stupid way.
L: Well of course of course.
J: How come she thought this instead of that? You know, and I did it because I wanted to show how I thought as I tried to understand a certain developmental process.
L: That’s right, and that’s good, and that’s very brave of you.
J: Well, I’m so committed, I’m so concerned about the state of social work knowledge that I was—you know, I joyfully took that—I joyfully did it, but it never would have occurred to me in a million years that that’s how you normally would write up grounded theory.
L: Well, but that’s the point. The point is, if knowledge is constructed, – –
J: Well, it is.
L: Then it’s incumbent on the researcher to provide at least some insights into the construction process. That’s why, on the dimensional analysis level, I insist that my students gather all the flowers, and tell me which one of those dimensions finally ended up as a central perspective which then aligned all the other dimensions—rendered some of them irrelevant, some of them sufficient, and some of them critical. There’s no way of evaluating all the considerations that you bring to bear, except that you have a perspective that gives them value. I mean, what has contemporary feminist literature done? Let’s say to history? It’s reconstituted history. It’s a construction. It simply took gender as a basic perspective, examined history again, where men who wrote history never had gender as a central perspective. Do you understand?
J: I do.
L: And men have always used gender, but it was always on the bottom of the pile. It was rendered irrelevant .. to the political wars, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And so, you know, that’s Ok, but the feminists came along, and said, oh shit, you know, let’s make gender central. What happens with history when you take that perspective? (J laughing) And sure enough, you get what you got. And now, feminist history is understandable in a new light. You see. But you—at least somebody says we’re not going to denigrate gender, we’re gonna make it central to the configuration of all the dimensions that we’re going to examine. Every one of them will be examined against the dimension of gender. And other things like leadership, freedom, whatever the hell you want to bring in. Do you understand?
J: Yep. But you know, the thing that—you know what’s always confused me about some of this .. discussion, has confused me, or I haven’t been able to clarify it too well, except I think I’ve sort of dealt with it, but not well, and that is Bluuer’s idea of sensitizing concepts? How can you be a grounded theorist and also reconstitute history through gender—through a gender analysis, or how can you take a sensitizing concept and do grounded theory at the same time?
L: Well, I don’t know. Oh, off the top of my head I would say that theoretically, every goddamned concept is sensitizing. But whatever you’re sensitive to, you will use as a perspective to look at complex data, and you will try it out, to see what it does to all of the data, if you made it central. I say that in my article. You know what I mean? You at least have made a commitment, a public commitment, to which one of the dimensions of what-all is involved here, you see. I mean, what do black scholars do? They put race as a central dimension. It gives them perspective. They look at history or social process, and through race it comes out differently. It simply does. You know what I mean?
L: So whatever concept you use, is already sensitizing.
J: I know, but lemme put it this way. I’ve told you, I mean, all day long today in particular, I’ve been doing it anyway, all along, but today in particular I’ve been trying on different central concepts to organize this paper I’m writing. And I still haven’t arrived. I think I’m coming closer to it when I decide that what I’m doing is writing a narrative. I think that helps. I have, I think, I really have the paper organized in many ways. I mean I know the different aspects of what I want to cover, but to formulate or find the central organizing principle, I can’t say that I’ve really done that yet, and what’s hindering me, I think, is that I want the central organizing concept to be multi-dimensional, or to be able to connect theoretically with some relevant and wonderfully generative concept.
L: Yeah, well you have to give me <notes>.
J: Is that making sense to you?
L: Yes. Sure. That’s right. And that’s where you not only test a central concept against the data that you have, but against the structure of knowledge as it’s given to you. Received. You know what I mean?
L: You know what I mean?
J: Yeah. And – –
L: So you know not only that you did a superior piece of work, but that it is relevant to theoretical construction in your field.
J: Well, yeah, and hopefully it’s going to .. be a contribution.
L: In which case, you might support an existing theory, or refute it, or force it’s modification. One of those three is your fate. If it isn’t, you’ve failed.
J: Unless I say .. I guess I wanna get that down. [typing] Unless I’m much more modest, and say, look, something happened out there. This is what happened, and this is some of the outcome of what happened. These people were really lucky to be plunked down in one place where they were able, in many ways, to do their own thing, and to have students to do it with.
L: All right. Then, Ok. Fine.
J: You know, that’s at a very low level of abstraction.
L: All right, but then—that’s right. And you have to write memos, following grounded theory, which is good, in which you challenge yourself to say what the hell do I do with this concept? Why do I feel it’s important? And how can I enhance it? Maybe change its designation. Find another word that will allow me to move through a lot of this material.
J: Well, I actually did. And I’ve had to use several, and when I wrote it up I was really delighted, and then I put it aside for several hours and went back to it, and I thought, boy, does that sound stuffy.
L: All right, Ok. But these—you know, I always tell the students, finally the construction is yours, to be proud of, or a few years later to be ashamed of. But the point is that you are finally the arbiter of your own material, and you are responsible. And so you do what you do, and this is what came out of it. And you—if you can’t handle it with pride, then this tells you, you know, something else.
J: Yeah, but I’ve got to keep pushing.
L: Yeah, but you know, we did the psychiatric hospitals, and we—we applied a sensitizing concept. You know, the usual stuff on the social organization of a hospital has to do with rules and norms and the usual stuff. And Strauss is saying, yeah, there are a few rules in this hospital, and there are norms, but what else is goin on here? And we came up with the negotiation concept. And then what we did was we said well, there are rules, but rules are negotiated. Rules are bent, broken, ignored, argued over, all within the negotiation process. So we then declared—we literally declared, talk about arrogance, we declared that modern organization is better described as a negotiated process, where rules are constantly being negotiated and re-negotiated. It isn’t that the rules are not there, it is rather that rules and norms are in flux. And we looked at each other, and we gasped. We said, hey, that’s a theory. And we, you know, put in your thumb, and you pull out a plum, and you say what a good boy am I. And so we dared publish it that way, and it rang a bell. Terrific. I know there are rules. We set it aside. We said rules are not central. What is central is how these people deal with each other and negotiate little problems that occur day to day. And eventually certain rules, which were time-honored, are pushed aside and forgotten. But they are always constantly being negotiated. We went back over the data, and we found negotiation until it just came out of our ears. And then we said, by George, this is it, negotiated order. And you know, it was with a sense of triumph. How do I know that this is theoretically powerful? Shit, I don’t know. You make a declaration of it. Your colleagues may say this is a lot of crap. Well, then, you’ve published an article, and there are other forces in the world. We’re all competent, honest people, who come up with different perspectives and say this paper is wonderful, and this is shit. (both laugh) You know what I mean? Because you can’t deal to God. There is no god that tells you that one concept is better than the other. And so grounded theory is one among half a dozen methods, and it has its devotees, and the others who say, oh, it’s a lot of crap, or it’s fair enough. And you know, and we look at ethnographic method, and we say, oh God, its so poorly theoretical and so descriptive there’s nothing to it. This is evaluation. It’s a declaration of what is important. But that doesn’t make it right. It simply means that you have a group that stands by you. There’s functionalist sociology, there’s a directionist, there’s exchange theorists. I mean, it’s a multiple world, and we follow that axiom right within the interactionist framework.
J: Ok. I get it.
L: I mean, it’s plain social-psychological theory.
L: Right out of Chicago.
L: Strauss himself knows about these social worlds. They develop their own reality.
J: Well, that’s what I think you guys had. That was one of the concepts I’ve been kicking around.
L: That’s right. And I always felt superior, because it allowed me to think—to imagine, I don’t know for sure. It allowed me to imagine that a good interactionist, understanding multiple social worlds and multiple ways of thinking, are in constant flux and rhetoric with other ways of thinking. And that the demonstration of superiority, you know, is finally demonstrated, if at all, in a kind of pragmatic notion that some things work better than other things. (J laughs) You know what I mean. But you can’t convince a Harvard sociologist who’s taken up functionalism that his absolutes are in fact relative. You know. And so, here we are, we’re right back where we started from.
J: Well, what did you mean by you always felt superior?
L: Oh, that we somehow transcended the battle. And Strauss wrote that in the very first chapter. And that’s what I tell my students. In the very first chapter of the book on psychiatric ideologies. There were the psychotherapists, there were the somatotherapists, and then there were the groupie types, in the middle. You know? Those are three approaches to treatment. One-to-one psychotherapy, group stuff, and then the third was drugs and electroshock and so on. And so Strauss said, our problem, and sociologists, and this is a key, and we’ll let’s end the conversation now. This is the key to our kind of sociology. Let us rise above the battle, and let us map and analyze the rhetoric and the battle. And that is our sociology. So we are transcendent. So I tell the students, if you’re a Marxist, you got it made. If you’re a Freudian, you got it made. If you’re a theologian, you got it made. Because these theories are closed systems. They already assume that their basic premises are correct. But the interactionist is always ready to take as his subject matter, the rhetoric that has been generated in any given field, including sociology. And you try to rise above it, not to decide which method or which theory is better, but rather what are the consequences of the rhetoric? In other words, what happens when all these people—nurses and doctors and social workers and psychologists in a hospital are fighting each other? Never mind who’s right. What happens when they fight? How do they manage to survive each other anyway? You understand?
J: Sure do.
L: So then, I concocted a concept, that we wrote into the book, which I am proud of. And I said although there are these components of treatment philosophy or ideology, on the one hand, hospital organization on the other, and professionals in the third. The fact of the matter is, that the only way they survive each other is through a kind of philosophical pragmatism. And I’ll give you one little illustration. We had one member of our research team who was a social psychologist from [end of Tape 2, side 1]
[Tape 2, side 2]
L: And he did a questionnaire study. A questionnaire <construction>. And we gave it to all the psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and nurses. Right?
L: And we were going to interview them in terms of their adherence to the particular ideology which they espoused. Psychotherapy, milieu therapy, or somatic therapy. Correct?
L: And so one night I’m on the ward and I’m talking to this little old lady, patient, and I say, you know, Mrs. Coen, how are you? And she says, oh, I tell you, it’s just terrible here in this hospital. If you’re not crazy when you come in, they make you crazy. So I say what’s the matter? And she says well, I got this doctor and he’s giving me shock treatments. So I said well, that’s the way some doctors do. Who is your doctor, by the way? She says Dr. Goldberg. Click. Dr. Goldberg? He scored highest in psychotherapy, and lowest in somatic therapy. So, about a week or so later I meet Goldberg and we’re talking over lunch, and I said, by the way, you’re a problem to me. Is my sneaky way of doing interviews. He says how’s that? And I say to him, listen, I was on the ward the other night a couple weeks ago and I was talking to one of your patients. And she said you’re giving her shock treatments. And, that I recall that you scored highest in this whole hospital here in psychotherapy as an adherent to it, and I gotta explain that to myself. So he looked at me and he said, and I can quote “Schatzman, you’re really dumb. You asked me in those questionnaires what do I believe in. You didn’t ask me what I did.” Now, you know, I got red-faced, but I certainly learned something. And I teach this in my class. And I say, Ok, tell me about Mrs. Coen. And he says look, she’s 50 years old, she’s depressed. She’s got two kids at home, and she doesn’t have enough money for psychotherapy. There is no way, the rules of this hospital are no patient is to be here for longer than seven weeks. Now, there is no way I can give her psychotherapy in seven weeks. So I hit her in the head with electroshock, she comes to a little bit, and then she goes out, to her children, and somehow she’ll find psychotherapy. Now that’s why I give her shock treatment, because it’ll get her out of here. Now I really learned something. And so I developed this concept of pragmatic sufficiency, or pragmatic philosophy, that brings the ideal, which is ideology, what you truly believe in, but pragmatic sufficiency allows you to live through the mist that reality is. And so you give shock treatment, even though you think it’s shit, and barbarous. Do you understand?
L: Because this is the only way you can get her out. The only way you can meet the requirements that the hospital has laid on you. So these people are very pragmatic, finally. And, you know, that ends my story. So it’s the battle and its consequences that I took to heart. And I told that story to Strauss, and we howled. We screamed, because that is what is real, finally. That with all their ideological blubbering, the way its supposed to be and should be and ideally and all that, these people, more or less, managed to do their work and get home alive at night. You understand?
L: And that’s how it is if you take these wonderfully hopped up students, graduate them, and you find them six months later working for some institution, and they’re transformed. They’re no longer really ideological and so on if you watch what they do. They’re making all kinds of compromises, they’re finding new ways of dealing with themselves in a messy situation. Some are ideologues, and eventually they take a lot of hard knocks, and maybe even leave the place, and find other jobs. And so we found that too. That the turnover is one consequence of the ideological battle. You know? There’s satisfaction with work, whatever other interests the person has. So anyway, we have negotiated order, we had pragmatic sufficiency, and we were able to then concoct a whole bunch of theoretical components that allowed us to explain what goes on in a psychiatric hospital. We found, you know, that’s a lot of fun. It’s wonderful. And you know, Strauss says didn’t we do really grounded theory when you get right down to it? And I said, Ans, cut it out. You never even had the term grounded theory when we wrote the book. But now, you know, we could reconstruct our efforts. I could always say to him—I don’t think I ever did—I could always say, look Ans, we really did natural dimensional analysis. And I could prove that too. But we didn’t have the concept then. They were just a few bright people around, and we thought our way through the rhetoric that we were encountering daily. And so, that’s the way we wrote the book. It’s a good book. Great sociology. So anyway, that’s about it. Let’s call it a night.
J: Are you tired?
J: Are you tired?
L: No, I want to do other things.
J: Yeah, well, how’s your mouth?
L: Well, you know, it’s a little distortion.
J: Yeah, but it doesn’t hurt, after all the talking?
L: No, no, no, it hurts only when I chew on the left side, that kind of thing. But for talking and general energy, I’m all right. The erythromycin is antibiotic, so it slows me down, but once I get talking I energize myself. <And you can see> I’m a ham when I get up in class and teach.
J: Oh, I’d love it. This was great to me. I thought I’d be tired, but I’m not. Cause it’s late for me.
L: Anyway, but—.
J: Well, I don’t know. This is such a scary business to me in some ways.
L: Well, it’s not scary, it’s primitive. And it’s—to me it’s not scary, but rather, it’s an opening into ways of thinking. And grounded theory has its legitimacy and its served some people, and others it doesn’t.
J: Well, yeah. No, I agree with all that, but what I’m saying is is that I’m very pragmatic in why I chose to do grounded theory—well, I don’t even know if it is grounded theory—but chose to do what I’m doing, and that is simply because we don’t know enough about certain things that I’m interested in, so I’m bound and determined to develop some knowledge in these areas. So I am extremely pragmatic, but it seems, and this will be my last question, it just seems to me that—you know, I don’t know how you work with your students, and I’d like to get a better sense of that, – –
L: Well, yeah – –
J: But let me just finish my thought. But the thing that really causes me some anxiety. I mean it’s not overwhelming, and I’m gonna do what I do anyway, – –
L: I’ll give you psychotherapy.
J: No, no no, it’s not related to needing psychotherapy, (L laughs) it’s more that—it sounds as if there are certain rules for doing grounded theory, and if you don’t do it, then you’re not doin it good.
L: Well, that is a dilemma. And you hit it correctly. It’s not the only dilemma. The fact is, this is why Strauss keeps telling me and keeps writing in the book—a book called Method—first you do this and then you do that. But then he says, but it’s not really a series of steps that you follow, because you’re thinking and theorizing all the time. And you cannot sequence these steps. They are occurring simultaneously. That’s why I wrote that in my article.
L: A lot of the students went bonkers. Because, they usually think of a linear methodology. First you do this and then you do that. But it doesn’t work that way. And Strauss is a genius He really is. He’s brilliant the way he handles it, but if you ask him how he did it, he would sort of concoct a way of telling you how he did it, but I don’t believe it.
J: So he’s just kind of generating a lot of myths then when he talks about – –
L: He’s generating conception.
J: But they might not be—.
L: But you see, it doesn’t follow when you add electrolysis to hydrogen and oxygen atoms you’re going to get water. I mean, it always happens in physics.
L: But it doesn’t always happen in grounded theory. And this is nonsense, and it’s a travesty to say that it does.
J: No, I understand that, but what I’m saying is he may be generating myths in terms of saying – –
L: Yes, implicitly he is.
J: Yeah. Because, it just seems to me that, if I’m looking at—what I’m looking at are people’s accounts of their lives, and I’m trying to make – –
L: You’re looking at natural, analytic accounts of their lives.
J: Exactly. And their accounts.
L: And you are doing an analysis on top of their analysis – –
L: Of themselves.
J: Exactly exactly. But do I sit there and say, well now I have to look at the conditions in the bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. I might do that in retrospect, perhaps—.
L: Unless you’ve done a good study, in a sense, in your interviewing, or and including some observations in which you can induce how it is they reach their perspective and their analysis. You know, I mean someone can say could take the whole concept of luck, and say my life was a total of bad luck. That’s the way they analyze. And then you now have a way of comprehending a person who uses luck as a central concept in their mode of analysis.
L: You’ve transcended them. Now the point is how do you do that for yourself while you are analyzing 20 people, each constructing a different story? Now, what I’m trying to prove in my book is that everybody who constructs theory, and you can hardly say anything without being theoretical, even implicitly, that you have done a natural analysis. You couldn’t have reached any definitions of situations without having gathered—conjured, I use the term—conjured a number of dimensions that form the core of how you’re thinking about whatever the hell the subject is. You know what I mean?
L: So I said, you know, when I met Sutherland in the halls, and he said did you make money on the black market, and I said sure, and he says can I interview you, I take that as a chance of #. You know, so that particular incident, a chance becomes an important thing, because it was a chance encounter. I might have been a psychiatric social worker if I’d never met him.
J: If you hadn’t ran into Sutherland?
L: That’s right.
J: Who got you to Strauss.
J: Who got you to Strauss.
L: Who got me to Strauss, that’s right. And so I always tell my students I’m threatening to write two books before I die. One of which will be entitled In the Meantime, and the other one will be entitled And One Thing Led To Another. So that’s my theory of biography and autobiography. I was doing this and this. I was out of the army, and I was on my way to California to become a psychiatric social worker. In the meantime, there’s a guy by the name of Edwin Sutherland who’s a criminologist, and he’s gathering data on how the GIs worked the black market. And he runs in by chance into this guy who just got out of the army, and brought home like ten thousand dollars, and he asked me if I know anything, and I say sure. And then one thing led to another. It’s a whole series of processes that followed then.
J: Wow, yeah. That’s wonderful.
L: So “in the meantime” refers to all processes and things that are going on, while the person in question is doing his thing, and then if there’s an intersection between what is going on in the meantime, – –
J: Love it.
L: Then one thing leads to another. So those are two kind of loose concepts that I play with, and students are always delighted. But I always threaten to write this book and I never do.
J: So I may actually use that in what I’m doing, because that’s how it works.
L: Go right ahead.
J: It would be interesting to play with that, because it’s exactly what I’ve been playing with, but not using quite those terms, because grounded theory fell on fertile soil.
L: Yeah, because you know, you’re doing your thing and all of a sudden there’s an earthquake or a hurricane, or you lost your job, or God knows what.
J: Oh no. Or, you’re somebody like me. I studied in Europe when I was a young women. I learned an awful lot about phenomenology and case studies and looking at the perspectives of other people, and became a social worker, and really had to work with the perspectives of other people, and understand – –
L: In the meantime other things were going around you which intersected with you – –
J: Well, yeah. You, and Anselm and all these other people were out in California doing your thing, and then came a time when I was doing my studies of things that were significant to me, and I needed some help. And then there was an intersection, but I was – –
L: An intersection, and then one thing led to another – –
J: I was a fertile field.
L: And now you’re talking to me.
J: Right, well one thing led to a lot of things.
L: That’s right.
J: I’ve taken a major leadership role in the organization that I’m presenting – –
L: Sure, use that. – –
J: I love it. Yeah, thanks.
L: And in the meantime means that there are multiple processes going on in the world today, while any one person is involved in one particular social world. But there’s always something happening, an intrusion from seemingly marginal or uninvolved things that sets something new into motion. And for many people, this is the essence of their lives. For other people, it isn’t quite that critical. You know, people set their mind, I’m gonna become a doctor, and that’s all they do, and they manage to fend off these meantimes that threaten to intrude. [J laughs] And they have various strategies to maintain. You know? But most people are victimized by other people’s meantimes, and then one thing leads to another. So that’s how I’m a sociologist.
L: Anyway, I play that, and that’s a central part of my own thinking. So wouldn’t you know that I generally drum this up as a perspective as I look at a human life.
J: Well, you’re still a historian.
J: You’re still an historian.
L: Well, I graduated with Anselm, still loving history, and now that I’m retired, by the way, I’m going back to reading history, not sociology. I go back to my first love. My first love is really pre-history.
J: Which is?
L: Which is, you know, very early man, through archaeology.
J: Oh yeah.
L: And I’m picking up the traces. Finding interesting things, and it’s wonderful. So, but I don’t read straight sociology, cause I find it boring. But, at any rate, so much. Well, let’s call it a night.
J: Ok. If I need to clarify some facts, can I give you a call back?
L: You can call me most any evening, or, if you do your thinking while you’re preparing your notes, and you promised me a copy of some semblance of what I said, then add a few questions, and I can even write to you.
J: Ok. Now give me— I probably have your address, but I want to type it in right here, right now.
L: Yeah, well, I spend more time at home than at school, so let me give you my home address. 21 Bigby Street, San Francisco, 94131.
L: all right?
J: Great. Got it. I’ll work on these tomorrow and put them in the mail for you tomorrow.
L: There’s no hurry.
J: Well, I want to do it while it’s still fresh in my mind. I’d better go to bed now, but I’ll get to them.
L: It’s all right. Oh my God, you’re what? Eleven o’clock. Poor thing.
J: But this is great. I just really appreciate it. I wish I could have studied with you and had these conversations more frequently.
L: Well, if you talk with some of these people, Barbara Bowers, if you can ever find Mary Anne McCarthy, who, by the way, for her dissertation, did a chapter on dimensional analysis which is excellent.
L: And, she’s at Ohio State. Mary Anne McCarthy. So, you know, I talked about myself plenty, but you could hear about me through other people that I’ve touched and worked with. And I still am.
J: Ok. Some of your main students are Ellen, Barbara, Mary Ann, and <Stacia Fischer>. Who else is some of your main ones?
L: Well, there’s Diane Hatton.
J: Where’s she?
L: She’s at the University of San Diego School of Nursing. And one other person, I don’t know where she is now. I think in some small college in North Carolina. But she was formerly at University of Nevada.
J: Eastern Carolina?
L: Her name is Nelly Droes.
J: Oh, yeah, she’s at Eastern Carolina.
L: She’s another one who’s worked with me at great length.
J: Right. Ok. Ellen gave me her name.
L: all right.
L: all right.
J: Well, thanks, this has been great for me.
L: all right Jane, nice talking with you and write to me anyway and tell me if you tell your colleagues about our conversation, what their response was.
J: Oh, great. Ok.
L: That’s good.
L: Bye bye.
[end of Tape 2, side 2]