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Title: Exploring the use of qualitative social psychology in political science : discursive themes of an 18-24 cohort shaping their propensity to vote
Author: Cole, Mark Clifford
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores the use of qualitative social psychology in political science. The reason for conducting the research was the realisation that research within political science was dominated by quantitative realist methodologies and that existing qualitative research methods were ill-equipped to accommodate a linguistic interpretation of events. This thesis does not necessarily aim to supplant existing methodologies rather it asks how qualitative social psychology could compliment and facilitate existing methodological approaches. Qualitative social psychology is increasingly underpinned by social constructionism (Willig, 2001); that meaning is based on perspectives and that through their use of language individuals constantly make and remake the social (Burr, 2003; 2015). This methodology is relativistic. It suggests that meaning is specific and relative to social, cultural and historical moments (Parker, 1998) and draws on interpretivism suggesting that unlike in the hard sciences truth and evidence of social issues such as poverty is dependent on the interpretation by people (Schwandt, 2003). The thesis will use a constructionist thematised method to exemplify this approach. This method shares common ground with a range of methods used in qualitative social psychology that builds on initial thematised coding and consequently may lead to a broader understanding of the possibilities of using this approach in political science. To explore the possibilities of using qualitative psychology the thesis considered changes in attitudes to voting of the 18-24 cohort in the UK. The turnout of this cohort at general elections has declined since the 1992 general election and this has been problematic to explain using existing political science methodologies. A group of forty participants that might have typically taken part in a study investigating this topic were recruited. These were group interviewed and their talk was transcribed and then analysed to identify discursive codes and themes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available