Conceptual and Methodological Advances
Edited by Henk A. Becker and Frank Vanclay
Chapter 10: Computer-based Qualitative Data Methods
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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