The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

The International Handbook of Social Impact Assessment

Conceptual and Methodological Advances

Elgar original reference

Edited by Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay

This important Handbook presents an indispensable overview of the range of new methods and of the conceptual advances in Social Impact Assessment (SIA). Recent increased attention to social considerations has led to substantial development in the techniques useful to, and the thinking in, SIA. A distinguished group of contributors provides an up-to-date and comprehensive account of the cutting-edge in SIA development.

Chapter 10: Computer-based Qualitative Data Methods

Gerard Fitzgerald

Subjects: economics and finance, valuation, environment, environmental sociology, research methods in the environment, valuation, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, research methods in social policy, sociology and sociological theory


Gerard Fitzgerald Introduction Assessing the social impacts of projects, programmes or polices is a datagathering or research-intensive activity. Social research is therefore part of social impact assessment (SIA) practice, along with action to manage impacts. SIA practitioners, as analysts and managers of social change, typically make use of a range of methods for gathering information about the people, communities and organizations associated with some past or future intervention or event. They do so in order to describe and explain what intended and unintended changes have occurred or, more often, what changes might occur in the future. As noted by Taylor et al. in Chapter 2 of the present volume, social research is integral to SIA. But in SIA, research is generally ‘a means of collecting and using data for an immediate social objective’, rather than for testing sociological concepts or to refine existing knowledge, as might be expected of academics (Taylor et al., 1995: 35). Data gathering, along with analysis, takes place iteratively throughout the SIA process. It is particularly marked in the scoping, profiling, estimation of effects and monitoring phases of an assessment. Most SIA practitioners recognize the value of having available a range of data drawn from a variety of sources and covering different aspects of the social situation being analysed. The data may be new and collected especially for the purpose at hand (primary data), or it might be pre-existing, perhaps gathered for some previous purpose by another party (secondary data). Data may...

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