What is ‘Q methodology’ and what can it do for me?: An introduction to ‘Q’ and its application to a study of young people’s attitudes to urban intensification. (16885)
In this presentation I will introduce Q as an exciting and potentially illuminating methodology for investigating people’s subjective viewpoints. Q will be framed through my own on-going use of the methodology to explore how the different housing experiences of young adults can affect their attitudes towards plans for urban intensification in Auckland, New Zealand. Originating in psychology in the 1930s, Q lay somewhat dormant, until interest in the technique started to spread its application to increasingly diverse fields of study during the 1980s. Q’s ‘qualiquant-ological’ method bridges the divide between traditional fortes of qualitative and quantitative research by providing a statistically robust quantitative measurement of subjectivity. This can be particularly useful when exploring the alignment of preferences for a quite specific population towards a controversial topic. The Auckland Council’s ‘Unitary Plan’ for the city’s next 30 years of development is a topic that has caused considerable controversy – and vocal resistance from many – primarily over its focus on suburban intensification over greenfield expansion. However, a viewpoint that has largely been missing in much of the debate is that of ‘generation y’. I will discuss how an application of Q can help reveal the diversity of opinion held by young adults towards the issue of urban intensification and how their various housing pathways may lead them to such viewpoints. Relating to my own experiences with Q, I will provide critical insight into the potential of this methodology – along with some of the difficulties that can be encountered and some common misunderstandings.