Express the Inexpressible - Sketches As Data for a Reconstructive Analysis

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:59
Location: Hörsaal 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Nicole WITTE, University of Goettingen - Center of Methods in Social Sciences, Germany
„There’s almost no privacy in the camp.” This statement of a refugee camp dweller in the Westbank was one the very few explicit references to the social ‘density’ and the confined space in the camps. Although rarely expressed this lack of ‘space’ was always co-present in the habitus of our interviewees as well as in their patterns of (inter-)action; e.g. their skill to navigate through dense crowded streets while talking. Asked about their perceptions and experiences of the narrow and crowded streets, the interviewees were not able to answer, because they hardly understand what they were asked for. Well-practised and part of their patterns of interpretation and interaction these actions could not be verbalized. This ‘lack of verbalization’ becomes even more obvious concerning material conditions; after a while you won’t realize the bullet-holes in the walls of the neighbouring-house.

The sociological biographical research mainly focuses on reconstructing the genesis, reproduction and transformation of (conscious and unconscious) patterns of interpretation and interaction, mainly by hermeneutic analysis of (interview-)texts. In this regard the questions occur if the above mentioned parts of the environment of the actor could be verbalized in interviews in a sufficient and adequate way. And moreover it is worthwhile to think about how objects difficult or even impossible to be verbalized could become data (for reconstructive analytic methods).

In my talk I will present a method of data collection apart from interview-text as well as a method to analyze these data. Both were applied during my research in Israel and Palestine in the scope of a joint research project. For data collection we asked our Interviewees to sketch their ‘space’ to live. These sketches were analyzed in a hermeneutic and reconstructive manner to gain insight into relevant contexts of action and into cognitive representations of material and immaterial contexts.