Sunday, February 27, 2011

Istanbul: Qualitative Computing: Day 3

Istanbul: Day 3:  Qualitative Computing:  Saturday, February 26

Joan Miguel Verd

An Application of Qualitative GIS in the Field of Urban Sociology Using ATLAS:ti Uses and Reflections by Joan Miquel Verd and Sergio Porcel, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain

Qualitative Geography and Qualitative Social Science

I am holding a cat at the beginning and get off to a slow start.

-talks about the growing importance of issues of space in related social science fields

-Fielding and Cisneros on GIS and CAQDAS; leading to a new form of mixed method

-fall and rise of QR in urban sociology

+1970’s new urban sociology, criticisms of urban ecology

+1990’s; comprehensive analysis of urban complexities; radical deductive approaches abandoned

-geo-referencing or geo-coding?

+not clear yet how this should be referred to; CAQDAS programs use different terms

+could difference be useful?

+geo-referencing: locating on the space geographic points where data is produced or points that are mentioned in data; putting material in a geographical context.

+geo-coding: you are reading the territory as a “text”. Reading and coding of spatial information. Using landscape as the text. Reading and coding the spatial information as such

Analysis of urban transformation in Barcelona: Planning of the Three Hills Park

-the park area is surrounded by working class neighborhoods (shows a Google Earth and Atlas-ti visual); then he shows visuals of the earlier planning/an ariel view; early on summer houses for middle class; 1960’s self-constructed dwellings using the ‘free space’; During 80’s and 90’s tried to apply planning, but squatters resisted. 2009, town council, officially began to apply the plan. Neighborhood associations banded together to fight this.

Question: How was the banning applied? What was the process between 2009 and the final agreement between the neighborhood and the town council? How were some neighborhood groups more effective than others? What social processes produced the stronger viewpoint?

A Multimethod Approach (Cresswell would use this title for many forms of qualitative research)

Meshing of different kinds of data (Mason, 2009l; Moran-Ellis, et al 2009)

-non-directed interviews; observations, documents, etc.

How were Atlas.ti’s geo-coding functions were used?

-integration of different data sources (urban planning documents, photographs, observation notes

-using Googl Earth…it has to be constructed, and worked to become useful to their purposes

Data management and production


-place photos on Google Earth maps

-connecting observation notes to referenced photographs by using comments

[example zoon of photograph on a Google Map] [another photo from more distance, with references]

-you can work in Google Earth, doing much of this with no program like Atlas-ti

-worked “raw” Google Earth data to construct geogratic data to create a geographic meta-text

+transposition of urban planning on the territory to create a new enriched map to be analyzed

+geo-referencing of urban development documents and their contents

**issue; google maps may not be of same age as the photos you take

-text placed on the map…a picture of the park area, with houses in danger marked, and references to what the conversations are with each home

Data Analysis..working at conceptual level:


+geographic information does not have the contextual information nor can it help in understanding other information

….some pieces lost here

-graphic representation

Graphical snapshots

+atlas.ti does not produce graphic representations or maps on its own…

+it doesn’t make captions itself; this is something we had to do separately on our own,

Advantages of qualitative GIS embedded in Atlas-ti

-easy to integrate different types of information

-territory as a core element in the analysis; theoretical work improved

-importance of the visual dimension as a way to ‘think better’

Issues with atlas-ti; no maps; now way to add captions; need to avoid naïve positivism—a map doesn’t make it GIS…you have to work it to make it useful; essential that you go from the text to the meta-text to demonstrate what the interest should be for the study.

Utilizing Qualitative Methodology in Understanding National Responses Adoption of an EU Environmental Policy. Dilek Unalan from Bogazici University

Business Administration…originally had an engineering background

This was her first qualitative research project; needed to find an appropriate methodology for her question.

Aim: provide an analysis of environmental policy adoption in the EU context through the lens of policy transfer

4 research questions:

How do concepts of policy transfer apply to environmental policy adoption in EU context?

What steps has Turkey taken to adopt EU directives?

How have different actors mobilized to shape Turkey’s responses?

Is Turkey’s response knowledge-driven policy or obligatory policy transfer?

She talks about her response to qualitative research…

Overall, the study took 3 years; interviewed over 80 people in EU and Turkey at various levels

Stage I: 6 people in Ministry of Environment—2 people who trained them; interviews 1/2002-4/2002; open-ended face-to-face interviews; qualitative analysis of documents and interviews

Stage II (missed this one)

Stage III: Outcomes of the adoption activities; (policy has still not been adopted and she is trying to understand why not)

Realizes that her research questions had many possible answers…there were many actors with their own perspectives

She shows a slide of her first analytical framework of the policy transfer process.

She did not use QDAS. She thinks her framework would have turned out the same, but the visuals would have looked better.

Silvia Bernard
“Grounded theory as a methodological strategy to gain a sense of reality” Silvia Bernard, Universidad Autonoma de Aguasaclientes, Mexico

How do individuals who migrate to an urban community develop their sense of belonging?

She did 5 interviews, then stopped and developed a diagram of the process. These migrants are moving from big cities to medium size cities—smaller cities. In this case they are moving to have a better quality of life.

Second diagram: of the components of the process—how do you move from alienation to belonging

What is the process for the stranger? How do they enter the receiving community? How do you develop a sense of belonging? How do you build social networks? (family, friends, work, broader community)

Issues in the Local Community: she built her themes using grounded theory and analyzed with MaxQDA. How does stranger look at the In group? How does the in group look at itself and the strangers?

Undertook 20 interviews; a generating question—tell me about their migration experience—why did they move? How did they feel? What experiences were significant? Realized that process was complicated for them, as well as for her. Men seemed to have an easier time than women did.

Research process:

1. Grounded Theory and MaxQDA

-help her to put aside her own perspectives and knowledge of the topic; be on guard about her own feelings and prejudices; experienced a crisis herself as a newcomer—in group looks at their way of being as ‘natural’. Draws upon Schultz’s definition of crisis

Maxqda allowed her to organize and homogenize the data. She could determine the most releveant topics and define properties.
Maxqda has helped her to avoid ‘bad process’…it helped her to keep on target with what the actual data said.

2. Merging with autoethnography

-discusses her move to the community where her university is; how she defined herself as a professional sociologist; but in the town she was considered a spouse and a housewife—and she couldn’t identify herself in the way she wanted in relationship to the in group. Her path was to stick to sociology and investigate social processes of migration; strangers and in group. She started using Strauss and Corbin’s grounded theory…and MaxQDA.

She could see herself in it, as she listened to the interviews. She started writing about her process for herself. Wrote a piece with a pen name…and was published in town…but she was recognized. She is trying to write a big piece now between her experience and the piece of the others. Going back and forth between autoethnography and grounded theory. Has been helpful to introspect in order to bring the study together. Has allowed her to make a more comprehensive understanding of the processes. She can go further…and come back and consolidate from the stories of others.

Many of the people she interviewed she had known for years so she knew the surface and the sub-surface. Finding autoethnography allowed her a new freedom in her thinking.

3. Sociological Perspectives

-Alfred Schutz

-Robert Lynd

-Robert Bellah

[An aside about Silvia's presentation:  This is a very interesting approach...she did a straight ahead sociological study on this issue...and then an autoethnographic study on the same question--these were parallel to each other.  She used Maxqda to analyze the straight ahead study...but we talked about what it would be like if she added the autoethnographic material to the Maxqda program and coded it together.  It was intriguing work.]

Questions for the Presentations: 

Sociology and the combination of geographic perspectives. What about the participatory aspects of the GIS? These discussions about land/urban environment we are going back to the discussions of the beginning of the 20th century—nature vs society? What do we need? How will we preserve these spaces?

How do you deal with issue that Google Earth says all maps are property of Google? Don’t get profit and keep the reference to Google Map?

What if you looked at the Barcelona study with an autoethnographic eye?

What if you looked at the immigration study with a spatial eye?

Sylvia doesn’t need a map—it isn’t part of her recent design…Geographical data cannot just be contextual data. We need to have a dialogue with geographers. What does Geo mean? How can we analyze our understanding of space and action?

Silvia wrote a whole book on the city; chose two neighborhoods; how do people inhabit the city? It has maps and photos? May need to add it back in.

How did you connect the personal with the ‘objective’ of grounded theory? These things have to be assembled. It was a huge effort. Why do we have methodologies where we separate them? Wouldn’t it be important to join them? It makes me want to start my next work in the global…complexity is embracing the whole thing, which is hard.

Udo Kelle
UDO KELLE: Beyond “cold interviewing” using triangulation and multiple data sources to enhance reflexivity in the qualitative research process 

What does cold interviewing mean?

Historical background

What can be done? [Triangulation of Methods]

Examples from research practice


Cold Interviewing; an interview without preparation in journalism; in this case meaning conducting interviews after no contact with the field and research subjects have been established. Little or no context/relationship established between researcher and researchee. You may be in the case that the intermediary doesn’t convey the message/information.

He shows an example about friends and family member bonds—and the difficulty, sensitivities, in responding to the questions. Different cultural backgrounds, gender differences—anger, silence, diffusion, tension, unease in this questioning. What are the political dangers that revealing information can raise for an interviewee—we can’t just assume it is about the individual…it can have larger consequences.

The social contexts in which interviewer and interviewee are located

Collection of Interview data as a social proves

-interactive process

-may hide motives and intentions

-may invent fictions

-create misunderstandings

Realist Position: Threats for the validity of QR

Historical Issues: why do we still use interviews if they have these problems?

-early field research: Malinowski—became famous over the world; got detained as citizen of enemy state; got permission to do research in a remote place; had no other obligations and was depressed—but he had 2 years for fieldwork

+William Whyte: Street Corner Society—his attempts to interview people in the home were uncomfortable and rejected…and then went for the street corner study

-1930’s and 40’s

+discussions about interviews; taking notes in the conversation or afterwards; concerns about the reliability of participants’ accounts; American sociologists asked to review the Chicago Studies—informality of the method discussed; little control of observer bias

Sociologists only had written accounts from the field (Archeologists have pots, etc.); this makes it difficult to debate the merits of the real data

TAPE RECORDERS!! Audio taped interviews developed…the technical device helped to regain trustworthiness of the researchers. Methodological debates of the time may not be as important as the tape recorder is affirming the worth of sociology.

Caqdas : These further added trustworthiness to outsiders. Now, researchers thought that you could gather more data. Affirmed worth again.

Mixed Methods: Helped to blur boundaries between qualitative and quantitative. Dispersed researcher’s attention and budget for fieldwork

1990’s: Application for grants became more complicated and standardized…shaped the research in significant ways. Bureaucracy of grant applications fits much better with quantitative forms of research…No place for emergence...making sense

Qualitative (pure) Interview Study:

-large number of interviews

-restricted time budget

-fieldwork/context is limited

-recording of fieldnotes neglected

“social research by heliocopter” ; like a landing force in an emergency

What can be done?

“Forceful and consistent triangulations of methods and data sources in every study”
-mutual validation of methods

-means to create more complete picture of the study

-necessary prerequisite for any sociological explanation

[picture of map showing triangle and the angles—how this works in geometry]

He suggests this notion of triangulation

“the creative use and combination of any source of information and material which supports the understanding of the social processes going on in the research field”

-qualitative and quantitative interviews

-informal information; observations, interviews,

-papers and documents

Two examples from research:

Care Home Residents: How can we measure consumer satisfaction?

-issues related to gaining data from care home dwellers
-formal methods of data collection and analysis

+semistructured interviews

+standardized questionnaires

Demonstrates how the triangulation works across various kinds of data

-comparing formal interview with informal contacts

-comparing interview with survey

Open or Hidden Refusal

Institutional context of interviewing; patients were within a total institution; great asymmetries of status and power; highly vulnerable;

Concerns about anonymity

-find institutional members who have more power (institutional board members)

-exp of the suspicions of the owner, entering the interview, and causing the members to close down

The role of information obtained informally in the field

-cooperative gatekeepers can actually be unhelpful; as they sort who the researcher can/cannot meet with

Example 2: Caregivers’ strategies in dementia care

-problems in communication between carehome staff and carehome patients

Carehomes as research site: Owners are critical gatekeepers: what does this mean for the staff? Issues when management invites the researcher in. Staff is suspicious of people who sit in the corner and take feels like a government official. The researcher need to move into the participant role, asking how she could assist; this allowed for informal interviews

-sharing life worlds led to a relationship
Triangulation between interview data and personal experiences

Experiences drawn from participant observation.

**”The necessity to reflect on and to develop the social relations with the interview partner”

-quality of data depends upon this

-developing these relations requires time

-our professional requirements may go against rules of social interaction; If I tell you something…then you should tell me something

-powerful agencies in our society try to get information from interrogation…and this is much like an interview

-keeping the balance is an essential part of social science research


-we are always in the field from the first moment of contact witht the subject

-need to be prepared to use all kinds of meaningful data

-QR cannot just be reduced to interviewing

-permanent recording of field notes essential to qualitative study


1. In first research, what order were the methods applied? How long were observations In that study.

2. You presented two proposals and an ideal; the real is to have enough time and money to do triangulation. Some government agencies need a fast turn around…and qualitative data is not essential to them.

As a doctoral advisor feels that participant observation is being lost. As a doctoral researcher find that more and more proposals are cutting off observations and increasing interviews.

Combine meaningful sources of information collected from diverse perspectives and in diverse forms.

--agree with your recommendations; should we transfer your suggestions to standards; we approve of the heliocopter methods; our peers are reviewing the grants and setting the standards—how can we change the standards; an example of integrating issues of gender—how this changed in German research proposals

-Udo responds; he agrees, but this will be difficult to do as we have to get researchers to evaluate their personality and the issue of developing of relationship; self-reflection is required here; your own person becomes part of the research.

-raising issue of conversational analysis discussions that relate to this discussion; we cannot reduce qualitative inquiry to interviews alone; using CAQDAS we can now add audio and text…to give the analysis more real connection with the data?

-when you have multiple kinds of data; you need to ask, why are the answers different?

In QR everything is data

Why do we emphasize disagreement within data and not agreement. Agreement is more remarkable.

There is an underlying issue here around professionalism in the institution. Need for training in these techniques. If we don’t train, we don’t get this understanding.

What about transferring this to a virtual environment: what are the issues with online interviewing? What about the contexts of becoming familiar with the virtual environment? What is relationship in online contexts? How does this apply to Nigel’s notion of glocalization? These questions of spatial/geo issues are located in the local and yet…much local is now globalized through the online experience. How is it different to be in context in chat rooms vs 2nd life?

How are the newer forms of interviewing opening up potential for this? Interactive interviewing, jointly produced interviews…how do they require more relationship and richer understanding of context. There is a literature on interviewing that is not cited here. This is located in the standardized literature of interviewing.

My comments about Udo's Concluding keynote:

His notion of heliocoptor interviewing...really resonated with me.  I realized how much I have been complicit with students' desires to be relieved of participant-observation activities...and just stick with interviews:  in and out--make it simple.  His talk was a good reminder to me of why I need to pay attention to this trend. 

To things that saddened me about the talk:
1.  He is one of the founding fathers of CAQDAs discussions in academic circles and he did not draw upon this experience here...and it was a CAQDAS conference.  I wanted to ask:  can you tell me how you see the field of CAQDAS changing?  Is CAQDAS supporting or challenging this interviewing trend?  I just wanted to tie it back to CAQDAS. 
2.  His discussion of interviewing issues was interesting, but he didn't tie it to the conversations about new forms of interviewing like what Ellis or Richardson have proposed.  New ways of conducting interviews and representing them.  As I talked to others at the conference about this--it seems that his discussion was very relevant to sociologists (which he is--but so are Ellis and Richardson) many of whom have lacked any access to the issues he is raising. 

I leave you with a photo of this wonderful bust of Sappho from the Istanbul Archeological Museum. 


Silvia Bénard said...

Great that you did this abstracts on
some of the talks. Good job!

Alan McKenzie said...

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It's the best qualitative Freeware.

Alan McKenzie said...

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