ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

Font Size:  Small  Medium  Large

Grasping the Intrinsic Logic of Cities. An Example for Mixing Ethnography, Produced-Produced Data and Survey Data

Linda Hering, Anna Laura Quermann

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 10 - Law Building, Room 105
Date: 2012-07-12 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Last modified: 2012-06-12


The theory of intrinsic logic of cities established by the Darmstadt School of Urban Sociology in Germany (especially Martina Löw and Helmut Berking) stresses the role of local social practices for establishing the distinctiveness of cities. However, grasping these local practices is a methodological challenge, as they are highly routinized and locals thus are hardly aware of them. Using the example of the local hairdresser market in two German and two British cities, the paper presents a two-stage research design developed to identify local practices:
(1) In phase I, a QUAL-QUAL-approach of mixing classical ethnography in 8 hairdresser’s salons and content analysis of process-produced data (reference books) is used to develop hypotheses.
(2) In phase II, hypotheses are tested, combining cross-sectional analysis and longitudinal analysis:
(2a) The cross-sectional analysis uses a QUAL-QUAN-approach in order to test, if patterns identified in phase I can be found in the whole city: A survey (total coverage of all local hairdresser’s salons) gives a general picture for the whole city. Focused ethnography and video analysis allow for a detailed micro-analysis of social practices.
(2b) As local practices should be reproduced over time or at least develop path-dependently, the longitudinal analysis uses a QUAL-QUAL-approach of mixing qualitative interviews with process-produced data (newspaper articles, annual reports and other documents) in four case studies in order to assess the historical development and reproduction of social practices.
The paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each of these data types in order to grasp social practices and argues that the data types complement each other.