Data Collection and Analysis with “VennMaker” - Poverty Reduction Networks of Local Politicians in Two German Cities
Political Poverty Networks Two trends have currently become evident in network data collection.1 First, social scientists increasingly combine quantitative with qualitative methods and utilize the advantages of both approaches.2 Secondly, digital instruments are used more often for data collection.3 Here, network interface cards appear to be especially suitable.4 An analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of data collection with network interface cards is lacking. This paper is meant to accomplish this and show how both method orientations can be combined in innovative software (“VennMaker”). The presentation of political poverty networks of local politicians in Trier and Jena serve as an example. 2 A Participatory Method The exemplary case study utilizes a triangulated research design which includes network analysis. Therefore, we use our new Software “VennMaker”5 which generates qualitative and quantitative data with network maps (Kahn & Antonucci, 1980). First, “VennMaker” enables to perform participatory, process-oriented interviews, where the interviewee and researcher develop the network-map together in a communicative process, or standardized interviews. Second, the features of “VennMaker” and the possibility of user defined amplification of graphical representations can be used as a drawing instrument to visualize network data that has been surveyed with other analytical methods. In the case of the political poverty ego-networks,6 the specific relational cooperation is registered and visualized in a digital network interface card. Therefore, data collection takes place simultaneously (Hogan, Carrasco & Wellman 2007)7. 3 Outline The paper addresses the collection of qualitative and quantitative date by means of network interface cards. With “VennMaker”, this is exemplified by the poverty policies in two German cities. Additionally, the presentation will show how “VennMaker” can connect quantitative as well as qualitative approaches to research in a triangulation. In order to discuss advantages and disadvantages, the process will be illustrated by various examples. Footnotes: 1 Baumgarten & Lahusen, 2006; Ohm, 2009; Benz, 1995; Pfenning, 1992. 2 Schnegg, 2010; Coviello, 2005. 3 Vehovar 2008; Herz &Gamper 2011. 4 Gamper, Schönhuth, & Kronenwett, forthcoming; Edwards, 2010; McCarty, Molina, Aguilar & Rota, 2007; Hogan, Carrasco, Wellman 2007. 5 These have been co-developed by the co-author and were introduced for the first time at Sunbelt 2007. 6 Fischer, Stueve, Jones, Jackson, Gerson, & Baldassare, 1977; Wellman, 1979. Due to the limited size of the field and its sensitivity, an ego-centric approach was preferred; the field work is currently still going on. 7 Parallel to this, selected primary sources are analyzed.