Through richly documented, often gripping case studies, Anselm Strauss and his co-authors show us exactly how health workers are confronting the problems created by chronic disease and coping with today's highly technologized hospitals. They guide us through the various hospital work sites, describing in detail the kinds of tasks performed by medical personnel, the interactions of staff members with each other and with patients, and the overall resulting patient treatment and response.
Focusing on the concept of illness trajectory, the authors vividly illustrate the complex, contingent nature of modern medical work. For example, open heart surgery keeps ill persons alive and may even improve them symptomatically, but those who do survive must face an uncertain future in terms of the physiological consequences of the surgery and the drugs required. They also have to adjust t altered lifestyles. In the new introduction, Anselm Strauss discusses the continuing importance of this work to sociologists, medical scholars, and medical professionals.
Straus examines organization, profession, career, and work, in addition to related matters such as socialization, occupational identity, social mobility, and professional relationships, all in a social psychological context. Because medicine is considered by many to be the prototype profession, Strauss effectively illustrates many of the points by allusion to nurses, chemists, hospitals, wards, and terminal care. The progression of ideas in these essays are a befitting source for the study of structure, interaction and process, other themes that occupied Strauss in his other research enterprises.
As Irving Louis Horowitz noted at the time of Anselm Strauss's death in 1996: "Anselm was and remained a social psychologist of a special sort. He appreciated that what takes place in the privacy of our minds translates into public consequences for the social fabric. His statements on personal problems are invariably followed in quick succession by intensely sociological essays on close awareness, face-to-face interaction, and structured interactions. The subtext distinguishes sociological from psychiatric conventions, seeing everything from daydreams to visions in interactionist frames rather than as pathology. The implications of his explorations into the medical profession are stated gently, but carry deep ramifications, for the act of people treating each other compassionately, not less than professionally, is also an act of awareness. Treating the human person as a creature of dignity, when generalized, becomes the basis for constructing human society."
The late Anselm Strauss was a pioneer in bridging the gap between theory and data in sociology. This collection of his works, available in paperback for the first time, will be a valuable resource for professionals and students interested in grounded social theory.
Anselm L. Strauss was professor of sociology and chairman of the graduate program in sociology, University of California, San Francisco. He is the author of numerous books including Creating Sociological Awareness and editor of Where Medicine Fails, both published by Transaction.
In Part I of the book, "Generation Theory by Comparative Analysis," the authors present a strategy whereby sociologists can facilitate the discovery of grounded theory, both substantive and formal. This strategy involves the systematic choice and study of several comparison groups. In Part II, The Flexible Use of Data," the generation of theory from qualitative, especially documentary, and quantitative data Is considered. In Part III, "Implications of Grounded Theory," Glaser and Strauss examine the credibility of grounded theory.
The Discovery of Grounded Theory is directed toward improving social scientists' capacity for generating theory that will be relevant to their research. While aimed primarily at sociologists, it will be useful to anyone Interested In studying social phenomena—political, educational, economic, industrial— especially If their studies are based on qualitative data.