Using critical Q-method to characterize environmental subjectivities and power relations surrounding Chicago River recreation hazard governance

Authors: Alex Peimer*, Northeastern Illinois University
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Urban Geography
Keywords: Q method, hazards, mixed methods, river governance
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this talk I discuss how I am using critical Q method to characterize subjectivities embodied in Chicago River recreation hazard management and governance. A main distinction between conventional and critical Q method is that critical Q method disavows Q’s positivist claims in lieu of its ability to track social complexity and difference. I advocate that critical Q method is relevant for hazard management because hazards are situationally and unevenly defined, experienced, and addressed among overlapping environmental subjectivities and power relations. My talk will focus on a primary component of Q method: the “Q set”. The Q set is a concourse of statements that a researcher constructs to represent the range and diversity of opinions held by actors involved in a subject area. Concourse statements can be generated from interviews, key document analysis, and other aspects of discourse. Research participants are asked to sort statements on the Q set from “most like I think” to “least like I think”. The result of a Q set is not a comparison of individuals, but instead a characterization of different discourses and practices that compose distinct subjectivities. I will share methodological considerations that went into developing a Q set aimed at characterizing opinions surrounding Chicago River recreation hazard management and governance from a critical Q perspective, as well as preliminary findings.

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