Ecologies of Meaning: Methods and Youth Politics
Drawing on Flyvbjerg’s (2012) phronetic conception of ‘social sciences’ we firstly describe the way we have developed a number of ethnographic and qualitative methods for use in the transnational study. These include the use of focus groups, intensive one-on-one interviews, ‘guided tours’ of activist Facebook and other online sites (Gallante 2015), auto-ethnographic accounts by activists as well as content analysis of activist blogs and other sites (Picard 2015). Ferrer and Soler I Marti (2015) argue that this imbrication of methods reveals new kinds of political engagement. The paper shows how these approaches are used to achieve a ‘deep description’ (Geertz 1974) of youth politics as well as reveal the way various political imaginaries inform the political mobilisation of young people. We then argue that ethnographic and qualitative methods can be enriched using a figurational sociology (Elias 1999) or an ecological frame (Bateson 1971). These essentially conceptual propositions are then grounded in a case study showing how young people in different sites develop responses to common Austerity policies in diverse ways.