Category Archives: representation

The Society Pages ~ social science that matters

The Society Pages is a portal to a number of blogs that highlight sociological investigations, of a traditional scholarly type and a more hip modern types as well. Sociological Images focuses on images that inform and create our understanding of the social world; Graphic Sociology is an analysis of graphs, tables and other visual presentations of data and will give you some cool ideas about data presentation; as well as Thick Culture and Cyborgology. Loads of cool stuff and inspiration for researchers.

Here is a post from Sociological Images that caught my eye… the I-75 Project.


Using a combination of GIS technology and social science, there are strategies being developed to connect narrative to place.

Some of this work is being supported by the Center for Digital Storytelling with a project called UR Hear that integrates urban research, storymapping, community-based service learning, and asset-based approaches to community development.

An example of using GIS for doing local history is the Cedar Cottage Virtual Walking Tour created by the high school students at Gladstone Secondary In Vancouver, BC. The project uses Google Maps to create an historical and current picture of what the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood has been and is–clicking on a marker on the Google map takes you to historical photos and descriptions of places, interviews with current residents and business owners, and results of community surveys.

Van Maanen on writing

John Van Maanen’s book Tales of the Field explores different forms of writing in interpretive research ~ he describes realist, confessional and impressionist ‘tales.’ Realist tales are descriptive and sometimes explanatory accounts of culture and meaning narrated in the third person. Such tales are crafted through the use of carefully chosen quotes from research participants to illustrate the tales’ authenticity. Confessional tales are first person accounts that reveal the researcher’s feelings and engagement with a cultural context. Such tales follow the conventions of autobiographical writing. Impressionist tales have the character of novels, writing that is characterized by dramatic recall, character and plot development. There are lots of examples of all three types of writing, many of them classics in the social sciences. This book is a definite read.


Lots of good examples of photovoice are available on the web. Here is a link to photovoice projects that explore the experience of women living in poverty in central Canada. This project has created a useful Photovoice Manual which includes definitions, strategies, advantages/disadvantages.

And, one based on research about health issues for non-gay African American men who have sex with men. This project was on display at the San Francisco Public Library in December 2007.

Poetry and representation

In Realism, Naturalism and Dead Dudes by Suzanne Baff reports on a research study that resulted from a qualitative research course she took with me. Originally, this research was represented entirely in poetry, but to be published the journal required some prose be written around the poetry to orient the reader.

Baff, S. J. (1997) Realism and Naturalism and Dead Dudes: Talking About Literature in 11th Grade English. Qualitative Inquiry, 3(4), 468-490.

Another approach used in interpretive research is poetic transcription (Baff uses this technique but also uses poetry rather than prose as well). Corrine Glesne illustrates forms of poetic transcription in That Rare Feeling. This excerpt illustrates two forms of poetic transcription she discusses.

Glesne, C. (1997). That Rare Feeling: Re-presenting Research Through Poetic Transcription. Qualitative Inquiry, 3(2), 202-221.


Resources on writing/publishing interpretive research

This list includes the usual style guides, helpful texts on writing for younger scholars, and some texts that are more specifically connected to interpretive research traditions.


Allison, A., & Forngia, T. (1992). The grad student’s guide to getting published. New York: Prentice Hall.

American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Associations (5th ed.). Washington, DC.

Becker, H. S., & Richards, P. (1986). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clifford, J. & Marcus, G. E. (1986). Writing culture. University of California Press.

Frost, P. J., & Taylor, M. S. (Eds.). Rhythms of academic life: Personal accounts of careers in academia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Geertz, C. (1989). Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as writer. Polity Press.

Matkin, R. E., & Riggar, T. F. (1991). Persist and publish: Helpful hints for academic writing and publishing. Niwot, CO: University of Colorado Press.

University of Chicago Press. (1993). The Chicago manual of style (14th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Strunk, W. J., & White, E. B. (2005). The elements of style (3rd. Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. [NOTE: Treat yourself and get the edition illustrated by Maira Kalman.]

Truss, L. (2004). Eats, shoots and leaves. New York: Gotham.

Van Maanen, J. (1988). Tales of the field. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wolcott, H. F. (2001). Writing up qualitative research (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.