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This book provides a detailed and comprehensive introduction to situational analysis of qualitative data. Adele E Clarke personally created the situational. Adele E. Clarke – University of California – San Francisco, USA; Carrie Friese – London The Second Edition of Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory After the . UPCOMING SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS WORKSHOP WELCOME to Adele Clarke’s website established to support my book, Situational.

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Volume 9No. Grounded theory, CLARKE’s starting point, is stuck in a modernist world-view, particularly by looking too much for a pure and oversimplified “basic social process”. Clark review essay argues that anzlysis though there remain some uncertainties in engaging in this epistemological hybrid, situational analysis provides a very good instrument for researchers to come into their material more deeply and, therefore, is a convincing tool for practice-oriented social science working with qualitative methods.

Much attention has been given to grounded theory in qualitative research. Moreover, through comparisons, theoretical sampling, memos and other techniques, research processes have facilitated more transparency and, clarme, less arbitrariness. Why, then, should grounded theory be re-thought? Within this methodology she does not condemn all the aforementioned advantages of grounded theory. Open, axial, theoretical coding, sampling techniques, memoing, and systematic comparisons should not be dismissed; rather grounded theory should be enlarged in order to represent the field’s messiness.

Astonishingly, situational analysis published inhas not gained much attention in Germany.

This review essay retains the book’s structure by first examining grounded theory’s epistemological background and then CLARKE’s extensions.

I will conclude with a short discussion on siuational problems that clarkee occur in the method and—eventually—the main advantages that I see when applying situational analysis 1 in research. The following five chapters are more practical, explaining how to create the three kinds of clarie, especially in the last three chapters: For this she draws on examples from her own work or student projects, i.

She also illustrates her point with images of such maps, which are very helpful to the reader and offer a very good guide for both beginners and advanced learners. As is generally known, grounded theory has two main approaches: The ongoing debate between these two strategies and what this means for engaging in grounded theory has been discussed elsewhere e.

For the purpose of this essay, however, it is important to know that CLARKE is explicitly following the STRAUSSian vision, because this strategy, so her argument goes, is the one that because of its roots in pragmatism has always looked around the postmodern turn in adeld road. A translation of the concepts—situation, consequences, the processual nature of truth, the concurrence of action and thinking—into the social sciences was originally done by George Herbert MEAD 3.

His essential thesis was that personality and social action are formed through symbols—i. However, the meaning of these symbols is reproduced, confirmed, and transformed in everyday interaction. The symbols’ meaning in motion and, therefore, the processual and unstable nature of society situationnal be adepe by taking the situation as a unit of analysis. According to him, a situation is the moment where people produce common meanings of symbols in interaction BLUMER,p.

With this category, he challenged the established group metaphors of sociology at that time as it did not exclusively grasp social classes or institutions, but collective action. This, again, is retraceable to the pragmatists’ assumption that the way things are done by groups enables us adels make claims on collective ways of thinking. It is especially grounded theory’s attempts to ascertain something CLARKE calls the “basic social process” that prevents ahalysis from fully becoming postmodern.

Both seek to create a kind of grounded theory that avoids these “positivist underpinnings to form analysks revised, more open-ended practice of grounded theory that stresses its mergent, constructivist elements” p. However, this leads to two different results: Of course, there is more than one postmodern project going on in current social sciences; however, CLARKE assumes that gender, situatjonal, disability and science studies etc.

He delivers the first “new root” to grounded theory. FOUCAULT’s work on the panopticon or the medical gaze, for example, used an accusatory language that basically showed how non-innocent the world is.

In his analysis of disciplining practices, subjectivation techniques, or the production of intelligible bodies, FOUCAULT always came back to questions of power and, in his early work, snalysis means this power to be purely negative, repressive and humiliating.

When FOUCAULT became interested in the individual’s agency, so CLARKE’s thesis states, he came closer to interactionist thinkers, as they “have a long tradition of attempting to see the world from the perspectives of all those in the situation, including the underdog s —those with less but never no power” p.

She emphasises that pragmatist thinking had always done this, but failed to do so explicitly or with methodological reflexivity. By drawing on actor-network theory and its basic assumption that semiotics and materiality must be analysed symmetrically, and both human actors and non-human actants have agency, she suggests using “the situation as the locus of analysis and explicitly includ[e] all analytically pertinent nonhuman including technical elements along with the human in situational maps” p.


In order to avoid essentialist reasoning, e. As stated above, STRAUSS’ innovation was to expand symbolic interactionism from focussing micro-events to also analysing its conditions. There is no such thing as context” p. There are indeed some analytical advantages in istuational between poles such as micro and the macro, individual and society, etc; however, according to CLARKE, the fundamental question is ” How do these conditions appear—make themselves felt as consequential— inside the empirical situation under examination?

On the contrary, CLARKE’s situatonal idea is to use maps in order to provoke new ideas, to help the researcher to interpret the field differently and more deeply. According to her, maps enable “relational analyses, [are] excellent ‘devices to materialize questions’ […they are] great boundary objects—devices for handling multiplicity, heterogeneity, and messiness in ways that analysi travel”p.

Adeke Situational Maps all actors individual or collective and actants clwrke, bodies, discourses are mapped and then their relationships to each other analysed.

Positional Maps are designed to grasp the sites of the stated and, more importantly, the non-stated positions taken in the field.

Situational Analysis

The goal of situational maps is to define ontologically different types of elements, both human individuals and collectives and non-human objects, discourses, etc. The production of this dirty and messy map is more or less a brainstorming exercise: Who and what matters in this situation?

What elements ‘make a difference’? If, say, McDonalds was an element in your situation of inquiry, there might be different symbolic meanings clustering around it e.

These meanings and the actors who produce them should be “mapped in” as they may provide a key to the nature of the field.

“Research/Therapy: A Review of Adele Clarke’s Situational Analysis: Gro” by Daniel P. Wulff

Here the open question occurs, where should one stop? Figure 1 gives a section of a situational map which CLARKE produced to capture the elements of one of her student’s projects which was on the status of nurses “emotion work” in a neoliberal health-care system. Obviously, it would be unfair to call this an ordered map; on the contrary, it is consciously kept messy as “too much order provokes premature closure, a particular hazard with grounded theory” p.

This is not to say that these maps should remain like this; rather, maps should be done in each phase of the study in order to achieve some theoretical sensitivity over time and make the research process more transparent.

I do not focus that much on the tips CLARKE gives on how to produce these maps, but more on two other techniques that should be applied in situational mapping. Indeed, the first step is to make an ordered version of the mess, i. The classification system for an ordered version of situational maps [ 15 ]. According to CLARKE, these ordered maps are tools to keep a general conspectus over the elements; it is not meant to overcome the messiness, but is instead used for practical reasons.

However, while engaging in this analytical exercise, the ontological different elements are sorted into a conservative classification system. It isn’t necessary” p. Figure 2 and 3 are examples from her research. Relational analysis is a very important tool for CLARKE, as it suggests that “worlding” HARAWAY does not happen because of the self-organisation of single elements; rather, it is the intertwinement of the individual elements that makes the ongoingness. This is also similar to BLUMER’s thesis clarkd the meaning of symbols is permanently re- produced; that nothing is finished and closed forever, but reshaped in everyday interactions.

Instead of asking what nurses had to say, one should think on how nurses are being re- constructed in that situation, by whom and, conversely, how nurses alter or stabilize other elements.

I will go into this point in more detail below. So far, it should have become clear that situational maps are the ones that grasp all elements present in the situation and that these should be mapped in a rough and dirty way in order to represent the field’s messiness.

Furthermore, the technique of relational sitational is meant to reflect on the quality of relationships between the single elements. The difference between social worlds and social arenas is basically that worlds are narrower in scope—there are several social worlds i. What are patterns situatiinal collective commitment clark what are the salient social worlds operating here? The analyst needs to elucidate which social worlds and subworlds or segments come together in a particular arena and why.


What are their perspectives and what do they hope to achieve through their situationa, action? What are their properties? Situatiobal can see as stated in the previous section the insertion of the new, postmodern roots: The challenging task to perform this kind of analysis is to appropriately layout the size, locations, intersections of the social worlds within one arena that also means that each map is supposed to look different.

Furthermore, the birds eye view over the situation helps the researcher keep in mind the broader field of interest. This also enables interpretation of data more easily or precipitates stumbling across ethnographic sequences that seem strange in comparison to the anticipated practices of the social world. To take the above mentioned example of CLARKE’s student, whose research project Figure 5 describes, this map helps to contextualise the nurses and define which social worlds cluster around the hospital arena—all on behalf of the patients.

The latter, however, as this map clearly represents, are not organised in one group, but are atomised—i. What is made invisible when we do analjsis map them in? This, again, is an open question.

Thus, to gather different present discourses and collective actions in a social world also means to enable conjectures on how things can further develop. It allows the researcher to make claims on interactions and power-relations and also includes actors that might have other perspectives.

Contradictions abound and positional maps enable us to see the broader situations, as well as specific positions, better. Her emphasis on contradictions is crucial here: This possibly allows the researcher “to articulate doubts and complexities where heretofore things had appeared ‘unnaturally’ pat, sure, and simple” CLARKE, p.

Moreover, the analysos of her student’s project clarifies the fact avele CLARKE is not only interested in the positions itself, but she also stresses the importance of capturing the sites of these positions. The map should feature two axes; the description of extremes at each end of these axes defines the scope of the space in which positions can be articulated. It is more important to note that maps like these clarkd only grasp the range of positions, but also wnalysis what is not articulated; this situaational then provide a key to understanding the nature of the situation.

In further analysis, it may also become clear ssituational some groups or individuals do not only stand for one position, znalysis, on the contrary, they contradict themselves by taking in two or more point of views. Even though the presentation of CLARKE’s three suggested maps was certainly rudimentary, I hope to have made clear what the essential intention of her project is: Secondly, with this method she hopes that social scientists will allow themselves to be surprised by their own data and become researchers who reflect more on the categories that they have constructed and are more modest in their claims.

While I do not disagree with this very sympathetic plea for more modest research and self-reflective science, I now wish to specifically focus on two points about which I have reservations. First, the definition of situation and second, as already stated above, the understanding of relational analysis. Note that, concerning these two points, I do not mean to evaluate CLARKE in terms analsyis grounded theory positions; I am more concerned with her contributions to qualitatively working social scientists in the ahalysis and technology studies STS realm.

It may be due to my my background in ethnographically working social science, but according to my understanding both definitions of situation describe more or less narrow spatial and temporal units. Take, for example, the above definition see section 2 “Epistemological backgrounds” of situation analhsis symbolic interactionism; it would be difficult to define when a situation begins and when it ends or where exactly it is and where it is not; however, a situation would be bordered, it would be the short moment where different actors meet, negotiate on symbols’ meanings and, afterwards, reproduce or transform it.

HARAWAY is not that far away from this understanding; as I read her, situated knowledge means that all kinds of knowledges, zdele the scientific ones, are produced by individuals or groups engaging at different sites and embedded in different networks.

Knowledge production, then, is a relational process that depends on these networks, analyxis means involved in their production, moral and ethical issues, etc. Here again, a situation is a confined event where categories, individuals, things, etc. What is my point? For me, the question arises as to whether there is a difference between a field and a situation.


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