Friday, November 26, 2010

Current Issues

in Qualitative Research

An Occasional Publication for Field Researchers

from a Variety of Disciplines

Volume 1, Number 9 November 2010


The Intellectual Roots

of Grounded Theory

by Jane Gilgun

When Norman Denzin (2010) changes his mind about grounded theory (GT), you know something important has happened. More than 40 years ago, Denzin (1997) tried GT at the urging of Anselm Strauss. “Pretty soon, I had more GT than fieldnotes,” he said. He found that his efforts distanced him from the children in daycare who were the focus of his participant observations.

Denzin (2010) said, “I had failed at grounded theory.” Soon after he “became a critic of grounded theory” (p. 1). His failure did not affect his relationships with Strauss. For instance, he worked with Strauss and Alfred Lindesmith on several editions of Social Psychology (1999).

In 2010, Denzin came out as an enthusiastic promoter of a particular form of GT: collaborative, constructivist, and critical. Forty years earlier, during his first attempts to use GT, Denzin appears to have been caught up in the “trees” of GT; in other words, the technicalities of GT swamped him. He followed instructions that Strauss delivered in person about the constant comparative method, comparisons across field sites, and the search for emerging concepts, indicators of concepts, and links to theory (Denzin, 1997).

By 2010, Denzin saw that GT does not have to be about technicalities, but researchers can use it as an adaptable and open-ended approach to developing understandings of human situations. When researchers view GT this way, the goal is to listen, hear, and understand what others are saying and doing, in their own terms as much as possible. Its open-endedness permits researchers to adapt it to their own particular methodologies and conscious and unconscious biases. In short, there are many ways to do GT. Recently, Denzin adapted GT to serve his commitment to social justice issues in research that includes researcher collaborations with participants, the importance of local knowledge, and, once the research is completed, advocacy for social change.

The Roots of GT

This view of GT is consistent with its roots in the Chicago School of Sociology, where professors such as W.I. Thomas, Florian Znaniecki, & Robert Park urged their students to immerse themselves in the lives and situations of the persons whom they wished to study in order to develop deep understandings (verstehen) that resulted in descriptions of erlebnis, or lived experience. Many Chicago professors studied philosophers such as Kant, Dilthey, and Simmel when they were students at German universities (Bulmer, 1984; Gilgun, 1999, in press). These perspectives were embedded in their views about how to do research.

Robert Park’s famous words summarize this aspect of the Chicago School methodology. Park talked to his students about the necessity of "getting your hands dirty in research." He didn't stop here, however. He also said

But one more thing is needful: first hand observation. Go and sit in the lounges of the luxury hotels and on the doorsteps of the flophouses; sit on the Gold Coast settees and on the slum shakedowns; sit in the Orchestra Hall and in the Star and Garter Burlesk. In short, gentlemen [sic], go get the seat of your pants dirty" (McKinney, 1966, p. 71).

As a clear statement of immersion and the importance of multiple perspectives, this quote has few equals.

Theory development was also part of the Chicago School, although different professors had different perspectives on its centrality in research processes. Thomas and Znaniecki (1918-1920/1927), prominent in the Chicago School, believed that the purpose of science was to reach "generally applicable conclusions." This could be done through studying "each datum" "in its concrete particularity." Such strategies, from their view, is the basis of science. They emphasized induction, or the drawing general statements from careful analysis of particular situations (Gilgun, 1999). They said

The original subject matter of every science is constituted by particular data existing in a certain place, at a certain time, in certain special conditions, and it is the very task of science to reach, by a proper analysis of these data, generally applicable conclusions. And the degree of reliability of these general conclusions is directly dependent on the carefulness with which each datum has been studied in its concrete particularity (p. 1191).

This is no less true for the study of the individual who must be understood "in connection with his [sic] particular social milieu before we try to find in him [sic] features of a general human interest" (Thomas & Znaniecki, 1927, Vol. 2. p. 1911). Although, as the above excerpt suggests, they valued scientific generalization, they stated that they do not consider their work as giving "any definitive and universally valid sociological truths" (pp, 340-341). Rather, their work is suggestive and prepares the ground for further research.

These are early statements about the importance of theory development through building upon concrete particularities, which today we call case studies. These statements also show connections to the ideas of Strauss and colleagues (Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Glaser, 1978, 1992; Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss, 1987; Strauss & Corbin, 1998) who advise researchers to connect concepts to particularities in their efforts to construct grounded theories.

Although there were variations among researchers, Chicago faculty also had a commitment to social reform (Bulmer, 1984; Deegan, 1990; Gilgun, 1999). John Dewey, for example, set up a series of laboratory elementary schools, where he could try out the ideas being developed in the philosophy department as well as develop new ideas based on his interactions with of observations of teachers, students, and other personnel involved in the schools (Bulmer, 1984).

Jane Addams linked poverty and exploitation of workers with oppressive social and economic conditions, and she was a key figure in such reform movements as standards for occupational safety, the establishment of unions and the support of strikes, and various federal legislation on child labor and family social welfare (Bulmer, 1984; Deegan, 1990).

Robert Park and others studied social problems for the purposes of reform, but believed that an educated public would bring about social change. They did not directly advocate for change as did Addams and others associated with the Chicago School (Bulmer, 1984).

Denzin’s commitment to social justice and his stance on advocacy, then, is consistent with the roots of GT. His view of GT as constructivist, emancipatory, and action-oriented research has deep intellectual roots.

What’s New?

What’s new about GT is the name and some of its explanations of procedures of qualitative analysis, such as theoretical sampling, theoretical sensitivity, and elaboration analysis. Unfortunately, Glaser, Strauss, and Corbin did not explore or explain the intellectual roots of GT. The brief discussions they had of the Chicago tradition typically were dismissive, such as disparaging negative case analysis while giving a superficial account of it (cf., Glaser & Strauss, 1967).

What Denzin now calls GT is a good old-fashioned Chicago School of Sociology methodology. Members of the Chicago School did not name this approach to research except to call it fieldwork.

Grounded theory is a suitable name, unless researchers are looking to describe experiences. Then they may call their research interpretive phenomenology, which is a descriptive approach to verstehen and erlebnis. (See Benner, 2002; Polkinghorne, l983). Even critical theory has some of its intellectual roots in these philosophies, consistent with Denzin’s current perspectives on critical GT.

50 Years of Confusion

If Norman Denzin can experience confusion about what GT is, it is not surprising that legions of other researchers have, too. From the beginning, Anslem Strauss and Barney Glaser (1967), the originators of GT, laid the groundwork for almost 50 years of subsequent confusion, as well, of course, of protecting and promoting a rich intellectual heritage of qualitative research (Gilgun, 1999, 2005).

On the one hand, GT as originally formulated was a set of procedures for generating theory through prolonged immersion in the field. They were responding to concerns that many sociologist had about “grand theories;” that is, theories that were abstract and disconnected from more concrete descriptions of human, social phenomena (Glaser & Strauss, 1967).

This was arm-chair theorizing that Robert Merton (1968), among others, wanted to redress through the concept of “middle-range theories.” In fact, Merton’s (1968) description of middle range theories sounds like descriptions of GT. This is what Merton said:

theories of the middle range…lie between the minor but necessary working hypotheses that evolve…in day-to-day research and the all-inclusive efforts to develop a unified theory (p. 39).

On the other hand, GT was a set of generic procedures that researchers could use on many different types of qualitative research. Even the subtitles of their main texts show the confusion. The original book, that Strauss and Glaser co-authored, is called The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research. The most recent iteration, Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2008), continues the tradition of confusion.

Examples of generic procedures abound. For example, group analysis of data, which they highly recommend, was part of earliest research efforts, including Booth’s studies of the London poor (Webb & Webb, 1932). Grounded theory has no claim to this procedure. Even theoretical sensitivity (Glaser, 1978) may not be original because it is similar to Blumer’s (1954/1969) notion of sensitizing concepts, which, like theoretical sensitivity, are concerned with researchers’ capacities to identify social processes and construct theoretical statements about them.

It has become a cliché that researchers are not really doing GT if they don’t come up with a theory (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007). Maybe so, but the originators of GT made claims that their procedures were for doing qualitative research in general. Many of the procedures the originators discussed are useful for generic qualitative research and not necessarily for theory development. Open, axial, and selective coding are generic coding procedures that are not limited to theory-building.

Bryant and Charmaz recognize this confusion. They distinguish between grounded theory as methodology (GTM) and grounded theory (GT) as a product that is theory. They and several authors of chapters in their edited volume attempt to clarify the confusions that have arisen from Strauss’ and colleagues’ mixing of grounded theory as generic procedures and grounded theory as a product. They discussed such terms as “grounded,” “data,” “induction,” ”deduction,” “abduction,” “theoretical sensitivity,” and how to do some of the tasks associated with grounded theory, such as group analysis of data and when and how to include related research and theory.

The Split

As this discussions shows, Strauss, Glaser, and Corbin split off a part of the Chicago School legacy to emphasize theory development. They also made original and enduring contributions to qualitative analysis. Important, too, they kept a significant research tradition alive—this is, the open-ended, flexible approach to understanding of human phenomena.

Other researchers besides Denzin rejected GT and aligned themselves with the interpretive research. One of Strauss’s own students, Patricia Benner (1992), is one of them. Benner developed a form of interpretive phenomenology, which she taught to generations of students at the University of California, San Francisco, the same institution where Strauss, Glaser, & Corbin also taught for many years.

Benner's interpretive phenomenology seeks to convey lived experience and what it means to be human, presented in straightforward categories and theoretical statements that are inductively derived. She sees interpretive phenomenology as a scholarly discipline that provides perspectives that can promote understanding of everyday practices and meanings. As a professor of nursing, Benner, like Denzin, is within the Chicago tradition of research to be used to promote the social good.


The spirit of GT is open-ended and flexible, a form of research that seeks to understand individuals involved in social interactions of various types within contexts that range from the micro to the macro. Which aspects of contexts researchers chose to address depend upon a variety of factors, but primarily their own biases and perspectives.

Thirty years after his initial failure, Denzin has come back to grounded theory with a deeper understanding of its spirit. He now promotes reformist, interpretive grounded theory. Benner has spent about 30 years doing interpretive phenomenological research, partially in reaction to the distancing she too experienced when she tried to do grounded theory in the mode that Strauss and colleagues promoted (Gilgun, 1999).

Strauss and colleagues seized upon a significant idea and promoted it through many iterations. Their efforts, however, were imperfect. Researchers have spent and will continue to spend time and effort figuring out what they meant and forging their own paths. Strauss encouraged researchers to do this. In his writing, he advised other researchers to be creative, to decide what they want from their research, and to stick with it no matter what others may do to undermine them (Strauss, 1991). As prescriptive as the originators of GT appear to be, Strauss remained until the end a researcher and methodologist within the style of the Chicago School: flexible, open-minded, and committed to the social good.

About the Author

Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW is a professor, School of Social Work, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA. See Professor Gilgun’s other articles, children’s stories, & books on Amazon Kindle, iBooks, &

About this Article

This is issue 9, vol. 1 of Current Issues in Qualitative Research, a periodical that is available through & Amazon Kindle. Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW, is editor of this periodical. Individuals may submit short articles up to 1500 words long to Professor Gilgun at

Note: This article was first published in Report, a magazine of the National Council on Family Relations, 55.2, Summer 2010. Portions of this article appeared in Gilgun, Jane F. (1999). Methodological pluralism and qualitative family research. In Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Marvin B. Sussman, and Gary W. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of Marriage and the Family (2nd ed.) (pp. 219-261). New York: Plenum.


Benner, Patricia. (Ed.) (1994). Interpretive phenomenology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Booth, Charles (1903). Life and labour of the people in London. Final volume. London and New York: Macmillan.

Blumer, H. (1954/1969). What is wrong with social theory? In Herbert Blumer (1969/1986), Symbolic interactionism. (pp (pp. 140-152) Berkeley: University of California Press. Originally published in Vol. XIX in The American Sociological Review.

Bryant, Antony & Kathy Charmaz (Eds.) (2007). The Sage Handbook of Grounded Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bulmer, M. (1984). The Chicago School of Sociology: Institutionalization, diversity, and the rise of sociological research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Corbin, Juliet & Anselm Strauss (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Deegan, M. J. (1990). Jane Addams and the men of the Chicago School, 1892-1918. New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction.

Denzin, Norman K. (2010). Grounded and indigenous theories and the politics of pragmatism. Sociological Inquiry, 80(2), 286-312.

Denzin, Norman (1997). Coffee with Anselm. Qualitative Family Research 11(2), 1-4. Available at

Gilgun, Jane F. (in press). Qualitative family research: Enduring themes and contemporary variations. In Gary F. Peterson & Kevin Bush (Eds.), Handbook of Marriage and the Family (3rd ed.) (pp. 219-261). New York: Plenum.

Gilgun, Jane F. (2005). Qualitative research and family psychology. Journal of Family Psychology, 19(1), 40-50.

Gilgun, Jane F. (1999). Methodological pluralism and qualitative family research. In Suzanne K. Steinmetz, Marvin B. Sussman, and Gary W. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of Marriage and the Family (2nd ed.) (pp. 219-261). New York: Plenum.

Glaser, Barney. (1992). Basics of grounded theory analysis. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Glaser, Barney. (1978). Theoretical sensitivity. Mill Valley, CA: Sociology Press.

Lindesmith, Alfred R., Anselm Strauss, & Norman K. Denzin (1999). Social psychology (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Merton, Robert K. (1968). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free Press.

Polkinghorne, Donald. (l983). Methodology for the human sciences: Systems of inquiry. Albany: State University of New York at Albany.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2005. "On Tricky Ground: Researching the Native in the Age of Uncertainty." Pp. 85–108 in Handbook of Qualitative Research. 3rd ed., edited by N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Strauss, A. (1991). A personal history of the development of grounded theory. Qualitative Family Research, 5(2), 1-2.

Strauss, Anselm. 1987. Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Strauss, Anselm & Juliet Corbin (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Thomas, W. I. & Florian Znaniecki. (1918-1920/1927). The Polish peasant in Europe and America, Vol. 1-2. New York: Knopf. First published in 1918-1920

Webb, Sidney & Beatrice Webb. (l932). Methods of social study. London: Longman, Green.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes witty people, nature, poetry, and other good things in life. She writes children's stories, articles, books for Amazon Kindle, iBooks, and

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Five Little Cygnets
Cross the Bundoran Road

by Jane Gilgun

THIS PICTURE BOOK TELLS THE STORY of how a swan mother and father overcame obstacles to get their five newly hatched cygnets across the busy Bundoran Road to the salt marsh on the other side.

The photographs show the mother swan standing in the road shielding her babies from on-coming cars, the cygnets’ slow toddle across the road, the father swan’s efforts to get the babies through a wire fence, and finally the cygnets, mother, and father paddling away on the salt marsh under the watch of Benbulben, the table mountain that the poet W.B. Yeats immortalized.

The salt marsh is beside the Bundoran Road, outside of Mullaghmore, County Sligo, Ireland.

A 15-page full-color picture book that shows the fuzzy swan babies in their newborn cuteness and the intelligence and care of their mother and father.

The beauty of County Sligo, Ireland, comes through in this beautiful picture book.

About the Author JANE GILGUN HAS SPENT many summers in County Sligo, Ireland, where this story takes place. Her grandfather Thomas Gilgun was born on a dairy farm in Meenkeeragh, County Leitirim. When Thomas was ten, his family left Meenkeeragh never to return. Jane Gilgun is a professor, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, USA.

Order from Amazon Kindle and ( and other on-line booksellers.


Jane Gilgun
Jane Gilgun Books
Email Jane Gilgun Books
612 9253569

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Service? What Service?

Civility in politics has taken a nosedive, and so has civility in everday life. This past week, I took a trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, from Minneapolis, for a conference. It started off all right-just two incidents that cost me money. The first happened on the ride to the airport. A ramp was shut for road upgrades that led to a detour and a $10 boost in cab fare.

The second was at the airport when a polite bag handler informed me she had to charge $15 to get my bag on the plane. I immediately wondered why she didn't weigh me and my bag and if I racked up less than the average weight of individual passengers and their bags then I shouldn't have to pay. But that wouldn't pass muster because such policies would discriminate against overweight people, even though such a strategy is consistent with charging for bags because of their weight.

At the hotel, I found someone also attending the conference to share a room with, but to cancel the reservation, I had to pay for a full night's stay even though I could not use the room. I did the calculation. I would not save a cent if I cancelled the room and moved in with someone else. No matter what, they would get their pound of flesh, even though I would never stay with them again and will tell everyone about them. The Peabody Hotel in Little Rock. Their duck parade is cute. Everyday they herd ducks to and from a small pool in the lobby.

Back at the Little Rock airport on my way home, I checked in to get my boarding pass. The kiosk demanded $15 for my bag before it would give me my boarding pass. I slid in my credit card that has worked all over Europe and the US. The machine would not take my card. It gave me the message, "See the attendant at the counter."

An attendant had been at the counter for the five minutes or so I tried to persuade the machine to give me my boarding pass. During that time, she had had no customers. I walked the few feet to the counter and said the machine told me to talk to the attendant. She said the attendant would be right with me. Wasn't she the attendant? I waited a few minutes. No other attendant showed up, and the attendant who was standing there ignored me.

I thought I should try another credit card. I walked the few feet back to the machine and slid it in. It worked. I got charged $15 and the machine printed my boarding pass and receipt. I pushed my bags back to the counter. I handed my driver's license and boarding pass to the attendant who had been standing there the whole time. She said, "That will be $25." I said, "I just paid $15. You want $25 more?" She said, "It costs $25 per bag." I said, "The machine charged me $15. I paid $15 in Minneapolis." She said, "Show me the receipt." I showed her the receipt.

She tapped on some keys on her computer. She said, "Ok." She put a luggage tag on my luggage and left it where I had placed it. I stood there waiting for her to put my luggage on a conveyer belt. She tapped a few keys. She must have noticed me standing there.

"You can bring your bag to be x-rayed," she said, as she motioned with her head to a machine about 20 feet away. I pushed my bag to the designated machine. The handlers said nothing when I said, "Hello." I sighed.

I got through security. As the wait person at the fast food joint, handed me my fries and blackened chicken sandwich, I asked for salt. The wait person pointed to a box containing hundreds of little packets. I looked through them. Every packet was stamped "pepper." I said to the wait person, "I looked. There isn't any salt in there." A man next to me said, "I saw one packet." The wait packet reached in and grabbed a packet and slammed it on the counter. Indeed it said salt. Then I saw a second salt packet among at least 200 peppers.

Her impatience annoyed me. I said in a loud and sarcastic voice, "Thank you very much for the excellent service." She smiled. She was genuinely pleased. She said, "You're welcome. Come again." She meant it.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

After Barack Obama, Who is Next?

It's over. Barack Obama is president of the United States. He has shown great promise during the campaign, and I grew to admire his intelligence, his focus, and his people skills. In so many ways, he stood in stark contrast to how John McCain presented himself. McCain became a kind of pit bull with no teeth, nipping and howling but with the bite of a gnat. Obama responded politely to these nips and returned to the point. no bite. McCain's supporters slimed Obama, and Obama responded with his side of the story and continued to stay focused.

My hope now is that the Obama administration can bring stability and civility to the United States and that Obama can fulfill his dream of being president of us all. Short-sighted politicians have exploited fears and differences that increased the divisions among us. In some ways, this could turn out okay if we honestly and calmly examine our fears of others and realize that we have much more in common than many politicians ever acknowledged and that many of our differences are to be celebrated. Our differences make us unique. When we have differences based on distortions and misrepresentations of other people, then this we must examine and change.

Obama has taken on a job that requires national and international good will and cooperation. He cannot do it alone, and he must reach out. People who are positioned to make things better must respond. This is truly a two way street and a joint venture.

As relieved as I am about Obama's election, I have lived long enough to know that even if his administration does catalyze reform and things change for the better, I question how long that will last. Many times in the history of this country and even in my lifetime, the quality of life in the US has risen and fallen. Even if things get better in the US during an Obama administration, how long will that last?

I spoke to Pam Monroe earlier today. Pam is a brilliant woman and a professor at Louisiana State University. She said that Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, has what it takes to be president. Jindal is a Republican, and now in my more mature years I see that the two-party system not only is essential but American votes want periodic change of party. If it is time for a Republican to be president in eight years, I hope it is Jindal or someone just like him. From what Pam said and from what I know of him, he would not only continue constructive policies, but he too would aspire to be president of all of us. He reminds me of Obama in his intelligence, skills, and vision.

It is not too early to think of who will be the next president. We must choose wisely. Our nation is fragile. Eight years of stability is not enough for a turn-around. We must have constructive policies for generations to come.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

McCain and Palin Use Words that Evoke Violence

The presidential campaign shows the power of words not only to define other people but to incit some people to violent words and possiblity to violent deeds. "Palling around with terrorists" is a favorite phrase of Sarah Palin. "Who is Barack Obama?" has become a catch phrase in the McCain presidential campaign.

These words trigger racist thoughts and emotions. Some people have shouted "kill him" at McCain and Palin rallies in response to these words.

McCain and Palin may not intend these extreme responses, but they are using
words that evoke them.

These candidates are indeed playing with fire as Representative John Lewis (D-GA) wrote in a letter to John McCain. These words are evoking a lynch mob mentality that puts many people in danger, most of all Barack Obama.

The events in the presidential campaign show how important discourse analysis is to public life. Discourse analysis involves an examination of the power of words to evoke images, thoughts, and feelings. Call someone a pervert, and this immediately reduces them to something non-human.

Call someone a terrorist and this evokes fear and for some people a desire to throw the first punch or set off the first bomb.

Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon assured southern voters that they would respect "states rights." This is code for stating that they would not enforce civil rights legislation if elected. These two politicians won the votes of Southerners who feared civil rights for blacks.

"Uppity" is term for blacks who are rising about their "station," meaning they are well-dressed, arrticulate, and educated. They may have nicer houses and cars than many whites. Calling them "uppity" is a way of evoking hostilty to African-Americans of accomplishment. It is no coincidence that many who politic for McCain and Palin are calling Barach Obama uppity, in addition to linking him to terrorists.

Words can be weapons of destruction when they are linked to shared meanings that lead to resentment, race-based mistrust, and violence.

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Book on Sarah Palin: A Voter's Guide

Sue Katz, author of Thanks but No Thanks: The Voter's Guide to Sarah Palin wants people to know about her book. This is what she said.

I wrote my new book Thanks But No Thanks: The Voter's Guide to Sarah Palin in 28 very intense days and all-nighters. It all began when a small indie publisher Harvard Perspectives Press saw my blogs on Sarah Palin from the day of her selection. Within days I had a contract and was buried in this project.

Now that Palin has passed the “debate threshold,” it’s essential to cut through the mythologies in order to understand what she believes and what she has actually done in her short political life. We don’t have the “luxury” anymore of focusing on her wacky syntax and flirtatious winks. I believe that no matter what happens in November, Sarah Palin is going to be the leader of the Republican Party for some time to come.

There’s been quite a buzz since the paperback became available. It even hit Number One out of 183,000 among the Kindle books (Amazon’s electronic reader), where it was first released. Susie Bright said this about the me and the book: 'Sue Katz is just the she-bear to wrestle Sarah Palin's image back down to earth. Forget the myth about the GOP's latest superstar--Katz will show the real motivations behind Palin and where she comes from.'

Fiona Speaks is a pseudonym of Jane Gilgun who likes to laugh and talk. This blog is a way for me to connect with witty people who like to talk about ideas and how to connect with what's important. To do this, I want to examine and demystify the blocks I see to building connections and community with other people. Join me. Take a look at my books at, Amazon Kindle, and other on-line booksellers. Two are free downloads on lulu.


The blog is for witty people who want to build community. In this world that seems to be so full of witless efforts to self-aggrandize, I want to promote the simple idea of human connection.