PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2013, Vol. 32 ›› Issue (9): 1316-1331.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2013.09.002

• Special Column: Space-time Behavior and Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The application of the qualitative GIS in space-time research

KWAN Mei-Po1, GU Zhilian2, TA Na2, CHAI Yanwei2   

  1. 1. Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Urbana, IL 61801-3637, USA;
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2013-07-01 Revised:2013-08-01 Online:2013-09-25 Published:2013-09-25

Abstract: GIS has been largely understood as a tool for the storage and analysis of quantitative data since the early days of their development; their use in qualitative or mixed-method research has been limited to date. This positivist perspective has caused much of the critical discourse on GIS since the early 1990s. In recent years there have been a growing number of attempts to redress this particular understanding of GIS and explore the possibility of using GIS in qualitative research, that is, qualitative GIS, which has included the strategy of integrating grounded theory and visualization, the integration of GIS and ethnography, and so on. Qualitative GIS has been a crucil tool for the mixed-method research in geography today. Time geography has been a significant perspective for the analysis of human activity and movement in space-time. It analyzes human behavior through an integration of the temporal and spatial dimensions, and has been a helpful perspective in a wide range of space-time research. Nevertheless, it has been criticized for ignoring subjectivity, omitting social and culture context, and leaning towards quantitative analysis. In resent years, the development of qualitative GIS and its application in mixed-method research has provided a foundation for the integration of qualitative analysis in time geography. This paper reviews this development, with a focus on an approach to GIS-based narrative analysis developed by Kwan et al(2008) called "Geo-narrative". Geo-narrative is based on extending current GIS capabilities for the analysis and interpretation of narrative materials such as oral histories, life histories, and biographies. Which has three central elements: narrative analysis as the qualitative approach; 3D GIS-based time-geographic methods as the representational framework; and 3D-VQGIS as the GIS-based computer-aided qualitative data analysis component. This paper discusses how the application of Geo-narrative in time-geographic research can provide an effective environment for qualitative data collection and analysis in ralation to behavior, time and space, interpretation and re-interpretation during integration of the qualitative analysis in time-geographic analysis. Through this, a recursive and interactive qualitative analysis has been integrated with behavioral analysis in time geography within GIS. In addtion, to illustrate the analytical process using Geo-narrative and show how it can be used to perform qualitative analysis in time geography, we present a case example that draws on Kwan's study on the impact of anti-Muslin hate crimes on the lives of the Muslim women in Columbus, Ohio, after the attacks on theWorld Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Key words: 3D-VQGIS, geonarrative, narrative, qualitative GIS, time geography