Crang, Mike, Hudson, Alan, Reimer, Suzanne and Hinchliffe, Steve
Software for qualitative research: 1. Prospectus and overview
Environment and Planning A, 29, (5), . (doi:10.1068/a290771).
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In recent years there has been growing interest in the use of computers within qualitative geography. In this paper we review the types of software packages that have been adopted and outline some of their distinctive features. We discuss the intellectual and institutional reasons for the interest in the software and highlight the ways in which such reasons have shaped the use made of these packages. We argue that only a contextual account of how packages are adopted, adapted, and used can explain the situation in geography. Furthermore we suggest that the archaeologies underlying the packages -- their theoretical presuppositions -- are remarkably homogeneous and need to be clearly understood before deciding how the packages might be used. We outline how some of these presuppositions have affected the ways in which the packages have been used, and develop -- from our own experiences -- some points about informal networks of adoption and institutional contexts. The point of this is to suggest the minimal role played by formal software guides and manuals in choosing whether and how to use a package. The paper outlines the current 'state of play' and raises issues of future use to be addressed in a second paper on this theme. Our intention is neither to sell a particular package, nor to say "to do X, use package Y", because such recommendations are often misleading. Rather, our aim is to provoke discussion about the use of software packages in qualitative geography.
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