The social sciences disagree on how democracy should be defined and measured. This study approaches the conceptualization of democracy from the demos side. Using Q-methodology, we pin down the way ordinary Estonians live and understand democracy. The analysis reveals three distinct discourses: a libertarian democracy as freedom; a participatory democracy as empowerment; and a populist democracy as the utopia of good policies. It also points to strong consensus on what it means to live together in society. The study has both general and specific value. It tests the correspondence between defined democracy and lived democracy; it demonstrates how Q-methodology can objectivize the subjective; and it provides new empirical knowledge about how ordinary people perceive democracy. Understanding how people conceive of democracy is essential for ensuring measurement validity when using either conventional quantitative or qualitative approaches.
Naspetti, Simona, Serena Mandolesi, and Raffaele Zanoli (2016). Using visual Q sorting to determine the impact of photovoltaic applications on the landscape. Land Use Policy, 57, 564–573.
Abstract: In recent years, some European countries have experienced rapid growth of installation of photovoltaic systems. These systems can involve relevant, and in some cases quite radical, transformations of the landscape, especially in rural areas, and long-term impact on land use. In Italy, this installation of photovoltaic systems has raised concerns over the impact on the landscape and on land use. Visual Q methodology is particularly suited for the assessment of such perceived impact of photovoltaic systems. A selection (concourse) of landscape images with photovoltaic elements was collected and used during this Q-sort analysis. The final Q sample included 54 images of various photovoltaic plants in urban and rural settings. The P set was composed of 34 participants, including landscape and photovoltaic professionals. This analysis identified three distinctive factors that are representative of the different viewpoints on the integration of photovoltaic systems within the urban and rural landscapes. We conclude with a discussion of the wider land-use policy implications of this analysis.
Raffaele Zanoli <zanoli> is in the Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences at Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy and was the local host for the 2015 Q conference in Ancona.
Armatas, Christopher A., Tyron Venn, & Alan Watson (2016, May 12). Understanding social-ecological vulnerability with Q-methodology: A case study of water-based ecosystem services in Wyoming, USA. Sustainability Science. ePublication prior to print, DOI: 10.1007/s11625-016-0369-1) (Accessible: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-016-0369-1/fulltext.html)
Abstract: A broad range of participatory methods can be employed to understand the vulnerability of social-ecological systems threatened by various drivers of change including climate change and land-use change. Understanding this vulnerability is critical for managing natural resources, particularly water resources that flow across jurisdictional boundaries, and support conflicting uses. This paper demonstrates Q-methodology, a promising participatory method infrequently applied in the vulnerability context, with a case study investigation of the vulnerability of stakeholders reliant on water-based ecosystem services derived from the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, USA. The approach identified four distinct viewpoints regarding vulnerability, including an environmental perspective, agricultural perspective, Native American perspective, and recreation perspective. The distinct viewpoints highlighted disparate levels of importance related to 34 water benefits, such as commercial irrigation, oil and natural gas extraction, river-based fishing, and cultural and spiritual use. A diverse range of drivers of change threatening important water benefits were also identified, including pollution, too much management intervention, and development of recreation opportunities. The potential benefits of Q-methodology for vulnerability assessment include a rank-ordering exercise that elicits preferences for tradeoffs, and statistical derivation of a small number of perspectives about the topic.
Christopher A Armatas <christopher.armatas> is a doctoral student in the College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT (USA).
Grover, Vijay Kumar (2015, August). Developing indicators of quality school education as perceived by teachers using Q-methodology approach. Zenith International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research, 5(8), 54-65.
Abstract: This investigation is an attempt to assess indicators of ‘quality school education’ using Stephenson’s Q-methodology designed to deal with subjective issues like one under investigation. Methodology is alternative of R-methodology which deals with objective issues and highly relies on quantitative analysis. In procedure of Q-methodology it is inter-person correlation put to factor analysis instead of inter-item correlation as in case of R-methodology. Investigator finalized thirty-nine items supposedly covering the concept under investigation; we technically call it concourse of the concept. Data was collected by using ipsative choice method of Q-sorting, which involves placing items (written on cards) in seven piles (having 1, 3, 8, 15, 8, 3, and 1 items) on a continuum from least approved to most approved. These items are scored from 1 to 7 in respect of piles moving from least approved to most approved measures. Depending on inter-correlation values, i.e., proximity, groups of persons were discovered. For each group responses by the members for all the items were averaged to find rank order for items. These items are then placed back in the Q-distribution to understand most approved and least approved measures of quality for a group. Study revealed that at least fifteen factors (one corresponding to each group) are running under the concept of quality school education. It is finally concluded that teachers differ significantly in their perceptions on the subject under investigation. Indicators developed include—Planning, Problem solving, Efficiency, Communication, Skills learning, Individual differences, Productivity, Teaching methodology, Freedom of expression, Leadership, Teacher, and Relation. In terms of hypotheses testing, study accepted all the hypotheses relating to existence of distinct groups, groups have different perceptions, and the methodology has been effective for dealing the subject under investigation.
Vijay Kumar Grover <grovervijaykom> is in the DAV College of Education, Abohar, Punjab, India.
Grover, Vijay Kumar (2014). Objective solution of subjective problems: Issue of methodological approach. Journal of Advanced Research in Psychology & Psychotherapy, 1(1), 10-21.
Abstract: The paper is an attempt to find an objective solution to subjective problems of behavior. It explains nature of physical and behavioral science. The nature of subject decides nature of methodology for treating a problem. ‘R’ and ‘Q’ methodologies are objective and subjective methodologies for solving a problem. This article explains the difference between the two types of methodologies, steps needed for both and their relative merits and demerits. Q methodology is actually replacement of qualitative methodology but with much more objectivity and scientific bases. Blending both R & Q methodologies can give us triangulation method of research which is the most effective. In the end, investigator justifies application of triangulation method by taking a sample example.
Vijay Kumar Grover <email@example.com> is in the DAV College of Education, Abohar, Punjab, India.
Strickert, Graham, Kwok Pan Chun, Lori Bradford, Douglas Clark, Patricia Gober, Maureen G. Reed, & Diana Payton (2016). Unpacking viewpoints on water security: Lessons from the South Saskatchewan River Basin. Water Policy, 18, 50-72.
Abstract: Water is essential for human development and the environment; however, its security is challenged by factors such as competing uses, over extraction, and divergent perspectives. The focus of this paper is to better understand how different stakeholders define water security in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, a large (121,095 km2) transboundary basin that exemplifies global water security challenges. Understanding the perceptions of water security held by water stewards across multiple jurisdictions working in the public, private, and civil society sectors is critical for policy formulation and implementation. We used Q-method during three workshops to identify the factors that summarize perceptions about water security from water stewards spanning two provinces in Canada. Participants perceived that water security is linked to sustainability through concerns for intergenerational equity, ecosystem maintenance, and ‘balanced’ growth. Study participants generally disagreed with framings of water security that were shorter, self-centred, and narrow. We find some support for risk and vulnerability based framings of water security which centred on ‘reliability’ and ‘limited resources’ as core themes. In particular, the geographic and jurisdictional location, as well as the roles of water stewards affected the relative importance of core themes about water security.
Graham Strickert <firstname.lastname@example.org> is with the Global Institute for Water Security, National Hydrology Research Centre. All authors are from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
Pereira, Mariana A., John R. Fairweather, Keith B. Woodford, & Peter L. Nuthall (2016, April). Assessing the diversity of values and goals amongst Brazilian commercial-scale progressive beef farmers using Q-methodology. Agricultural Systems, 144, 1-8.
Abstract: This paper analyses the diversity of goals and values amongst 26 Brazilian commercial-scale beef farmers previously identified as exhibiting progressive technology adoption behaviours, and considers the implications for the agricultural innovation system (AIS). Following the Q-methodology guidelines, four main sets of goals and values were identified and labelled: the Professional Farmer (PF), the Committed Environmentalist (CE), the Profit Maximiser (PM) and the Aspirant Top Farmer (ATF). All farmer types believed in operating the farm as a business and agreed with the notion that cattle production and nature conservation are compatible. The PF aimed to run the farm professionally, based on sound technical and managerial practices. The CE put a particularly strong emphasis on the long-term sustainability of the farming system. The PM focused on technical issues to pursue economic returns and efficiency, thereby also creating space for lifestyle objectives. The ATF sought physical farm and livestock excellence, was growth oriented, and sought recognition by peers. These four typologies have implications for the farmers’ technology adoption and its promotion, e.g. they are likely to influence the uptake of particular types of innovations, and reinforce the importance of considering AIS within a social systems framework. This is the first Q-methodology study to demonstrate considerable diversity of values and goals within a subset of technology-adopting progressive farmers, with implications within agricultural innovation systems for the integration of goal diversity and adoption theory.
Mariana A Pereira <email@example.com> is affiliated with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa Beef Cattle, Ministry of Agriculture), Brasilia, Brazil.
West, Simon, Rose Cairns, & Lisen Schultz (2016, May). What constitutes a successful biodiversity corridor? A Q-study in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Biological Conservation, 198, 183-192.
Abstract: ‘Success’ is a vigorously debated concept in conservation. There is a drive to develop quantitative, comparable metrics of success to improve conservation interventions. Yet the qualitative, normative choices inherent in decisions about what to measure — emerging from fundamental philosophical commitments about what conservation is and should be — have received scant attention. We address this gap by exploring perceptions of what constitutes a successful biodiversity corridor in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa, an area of global biodiversity significance. Biodiversity corridors are particularly illustrative because, as interventions intended to extend conservation practices from protected areas across broader landscapes, they represent prisms in which ideas of conservation success are contested and transformed. We use Q method to elicit framings of success among 20 conservation scientists, practitioners and community representatives, and find three statistically significant framings of successful corridors: ‘a last line of defence for biodiversity under threat,’ ‘a creative process to develop integrative, inclusive visions of biodiversity and human wellbeing,’ and ‘a stimulus for place-based cultural identity and economic development.’ Our results demonstrate that distinct understandings of what a corridor is — a planning tool, a process of governing, a territorialized place — produce divergent framings of ‘successful’ corridors that embody diverse, inherently contestable visions of conservation. These framings emerge from global conservation discourses and distinctly local ecologies, politics, cultures and histories. We conclude that visions of conservation success will be inherently plural, and that in inevitably contested and diverse social contexts success on any terms rests upon recognition of and negotiation with alternative visions
Simon West <firstname.lastname@example.org> is a PhD student at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm.
Brown, Crystal Lea (2013). What works? Principals’ perceptions of professional development. Doctoral dissertation (Educational Leadership), North Carolina State University.
Abstract: Principals play a pivotal role in the professional growth of teachers. In turn, teachers have a tremendous impact on student learning. This study seeks to understand the perceptions principals have of effective elements of professional development and their role in facilitating the professional development of teachers in order to impact student learning. Q-methodology was utilized to investigate the subjective opinions of public school administrators. Literature on professional development was reviewed and statements pertaining to effective elements of professional development were used to create a set of statements. Statements were printed on cards. Then, thirty-four public school principals and assistant principals sorted, in a forced distribution, the cards according to their beliefs about professional development. A post-sort survey was used to glean demographic and perceptual data. The Q-sorts were factor analyzed to reveal statistical correlations among the administrators. Focus group interviews for each factor were conducted in order to gain more insight about the administrators’ perceptions of professional development. Data analysis indicated three statistically significant factors: Sustained Over Time, Collaboration and Follow-Up, and Collaborate. Along with these factors, data emerged explaining how principals view their role in facilitating professional development for teachers. The findings of this study generate insights into professional development for teachers and provide policy makers, researchers, and practitioners information about this important topic.
Parker, Tara Wooten (2015). Understanding the private school choice decision process: A Q-methodology study. Doctoral dissertation (Educational Administration and Supervision), North Carolina State University.
Abstract: The availability of school choice options has increased the schools’ accountability to both parents and students. This study’s purpose was to gain a deeper understanding of the subjectivity of the school choice decision process that private school parents undergo. Q methodology was utilized to explore this decision process. Research literature was reviewed and led to the development of statements addressing influential factors on school choice decisions. These statements were printed, and thirty-five private school parents sorted these statements based on the factors’ influence on their school choice decision. Post-sort interviews further explored the subjectivity of the decision process. The Q sorts were factor analyzed to determine the statistical correlations between the statements. Three emerging factors surfaced as distinct preferred school environments by private school parents. Data analysis explored these factors and a name for each factor was assigned based on the strongest influential statements. These three factors included a Developing the Whole Child Environment, a Strong, Academic Environment, and a Safe Environment with Like Peers. Findings presented numerous factors that influence school choice decisions. Data also provided information regarding perceived strengths and weaknesses of both public schools and private schools. The findings directed implications for both public and private school administrators and policymakers. These implications can help drive school reform initiatives. Without addressing these parent preferences, schools will not be able to compete in the market economy created by school choice.