Qualitative geographies going virtual? When the only field we reach is online

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups: Qualitative Research Specialty Group, Careers and Professional Development
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 19
Organizers: Giulia Montanari, Kristine Beurskens
Chairs: Kristine Beurskens


In geographic research, we have gotten acquainted with a huge variety of procedures for the analysis of qualitative data. These procedures are based on different theoretical and conceptual backgrounds which lead to very specific and oftentimes sophisticated procedures with established steps of analysis. Examples include Grounded Theory (texts, videos, images), content analysis, compositional analysis (images), or the Documentary Method (interviews, focus groups, images, videos). The methodologies and many of their respective procedures are linked to specific ways of collecting and transforming the data into transcripts that take into account the situational logic of data production.
A prominent feature of many qualitative research methods is their interactive momentum. We speak to people in all kinds of ways, we walk with them, let them draw and tell a story, or we spend time with them to observe and feel (e.g. Ezzy 2010) – approaching the field in an embodied manner has remained crucial for most qualitative geographic research. The actual role of such interactions does get conceptual and theoretical attention, within geography most prominently in approaches that refer to more-than-human and non-relational theories (Dowling et al. 2018). At the same time, some still call for more thorough geographic reflections on interviews as a social situation (Hitchings and Latham 2020, 393).
With the current COVID-19 crisis, many of our planned field work encounters came to a sudden halt. Therefore we want to ask in what way this affects our way of interpreting, analyzing and what adaptions will be necessary in the respective procedures. While some of us struggle with such questions for the first time, other qualitative geographers have already turned to online research (e.g. Germann Molz 2008, Leszczynski 2019), so there exist many data collecting methods that do not rely on interaction in physically co-present situations (such as the analysis of news pictures or texts, or of online forum discussions) and might have established new experiences and routines in this particular field that might be useful now (see also Adams 2016; Dwyer & Davies 2010; Rose 2016, 288ff).

In this session, we want to create a space for scholarly exchange on the question of how we work with interpretative methods of analysis when the field is to be found almost exclusively online. We want to tackle the lack in reflections of qualitative data production as a conjoint social construct of researcher and researched that in many cases has to be adapted not due to conceptual considerations but rather practical necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also hope to get a deeper understanding of the commonalities as well as differences that exist between interpretation-oriented research practice offline and online.


Adams, P. C. (2016): Geographies of media and communication I: Metaphysics of encounter. In Progress in Human Geography 41(3), 365-374.
Dowling, R; Lloyd, K; Suchet-Pearson, S (2018): Qualitative methods III: Experimenting, picturing, sensing. In Progress in Human Geography 42(5), 779–788.
Dwyer, C., & Davies, G. (2010). Qualitative methods III: animating archives, artful interventions and online environments. Progress in Human Geography, 34(1), 88-97.
Ezzy, D (2010): Qualitative Interviewing as an Embodied Emotional Performance. In Qualitative Inquiry 16(3), 163–170.
Germann Molz, J. (2008). Global abode: Home and mobility in narratives of round-the-world travel. Space and culture, 11(4), 325-342.
Hitchings, R; Latham, A (2020): Qualitative methods I: On current conventions in interview research. In Progress in Human Geography 44(2), 389-398.
Leszczynski, A (2019): Digital methods II: Digital-visual methods. In Progress in Human Geography 43(6), 1143–1152.
Rose, G (2016): Visual Methodologies – An Introduction to Researching with Visual Materials. Los Angeles et al.: Sage.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Corey Martz*, University of Denver, Qualitative GIS in a Pandemic: Challenges and Opportunities of Story Mapping with Youth Virtually During COVID-19 Stay-At-Home Orders 15 4:40 PM
Presenter Ori Gershon*, PhD candidate,Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology , Mor Shilon, PhD, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, UC San Diego, Efrat Eizenberg, PhD, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology , Yosef Jabareen, PhD, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology , Negotiating in-situ and virtual research: experiencing the residential environment from a distance 15 4:55 PM
Presenter Jin Chen*, , Is virtual photovoice still photovoice? Methodological reflections, trade-offs and possibilities 15 5:10 PM
Presenter Dave McLaughlin*, Coventry University, Space, memory and feeling: literary reading as virtual fieldwork 15 5:25 PM
Presenter Walter Furness, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Geography, Texas State University, Chantal Gailloux*, Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Geography, Texas State University, Colleen Myles, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Texas State University, Delorean Wiley, Ph.D. student, Department of Geography, Texas State University, Kourtney Collins, Master's student, Department of Geography, Texas State University, Katherine Sturdivant , Master's student, Department of Geography, Texas State University, Fieldwork without the field: Navigating the new world as qualitative, fermentation geographers 15 5:40 PM

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