Situational Analysis in Practice: Mapping Research with Grounded Theory

Clarke, A.E., Friese, C., & Washburn, R. (Eds.). (2015). Situational Analysis in Practice: Mapping Research with Grounded Theory (1st ed.). Routledge.

Chapter 1: Introducing Situational Analysis

Situational analysis is an extension of grounded theory that focuses on "the embodiment and situatedness of the researcher, grounding qualitative analysis in the broader situation of inquiry, attending carefully to differences, complexities, and range of variation in the data, including discourse data and analyses, and taking nonhuman elements (material things such as animals and technologies) into analytic account" (pg. 12). The unit of analysis is the situation of inquiry. The situation of inquiry is " empirically constructed through making three kinds of maps (situational, social worlds/arenas, and positional) and through doing analytic work with the maps" (pg. 12). Researchers memo about the data as well as the maps. "Researchers make situational and social worlds/arenas maps early in the project and then make them again after major waves of data collection and analysis. Positional maps are usually done quite late in the project once most or all of the data have been collected. While situational maps are rarely included in write-ups, both social worlds/arenas and positional maps commonly are, and most of the exemplars offered in this volume include such maps" (pg. 15).

Situational maps "lay out all the major human, nonhuman, discursive, historical, symbolic, cultural, political, and other elements in the research situation of concern" in order to "provoke discussion of the many and heterogeneous elements, their relations to one another, and the messy complexities of the situation" (pg. 13). The authors outline three types of situational maps: (1) the topic map; (2) the messy map; (3) the ordered map. The topic map focuses on all the topics involved in the situational context. The messy map focuses on broader discourses related to the situations and actors. The ordered map focuses on organizing these ideas more systematically and providing more detail.

Social worlds / arena maps focus on the collective actors in the situation and focus on interpretations of the broader situation (organizational, institutional, discursive elements).

Positional maps lay out what positions are and are not taken in the situation and "seek to represent the full range of discursive positions on key issues in the broad situation of concern" (pg. 14). They allow for contraditions and multiciplity.

Implicated actors are actors silenced or only discursively present in situations. These actors are often constructed by others. There are two kinds. One is physically present, but silenced, ignored, or made invisible by those with more power. The second are not physically present but discursively constructed by others. Neither of these implicated actors is actively involved in self-representation.

Chapter 6: Using Situational Analysis for Critical Qualitative Research Purposes

SA is a postmodernist feminist approach rooted in grounded theory and employing methods like inductive coding. SA focuses on creating a more "complete" situation by focusing not only on interviews and and ethnographies, but also technologies, documents, artifacts, animals, etc. SA is focused on: (1) valuing multiple knowledges; (2) reflexivity; (3) using narrative, visuality, and history to reveal social life; (4) cartography/mapmaking as an analytical tool throughout the research process; (5) thick analysis to address complexity, difference, contradiction, and heterogeneity rather than developing formal theory. SA focuses on how discourses (1) are negotiated in social relationships and interactions; and (2) manufacture "identities and subjectivities"; and (3) construct power, knowledge, ideologies, control (pg. 217).