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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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4

Beyond the Qualitative/Quantitative “Divide”

Reflections on the Utility and Challenges of Q Methodology for Media Researchers

Carolyn Michelle and Charles H. Davis

ABSTRACT

This chapter introduces readers to Q methodology, a methodological hybrid concerned with revealing similarities and differences in people's viewpoints, attitudes, beliefs, and experiences. The history of Q methodology is first outlined, and its key principles and processes are explained, before a brief case study is presented in which Q methodology was used in an online survey of cross-cultural responses to James Cameron's 2009 feature film Avatar. Here, readers are taken behind the scenes to reflect on the methodological challenges faced, while some of the unique insights that Q methodology provided in this case are highlighted. Finally, the major strengths and limitations of Q methodology are discussed. It is an approach that has considerable potential to shed light on many key questions in contemporary media studies.

Introduction

This chapter aims to introduce readers to a relatively little-known methodology within media studies, one we believe has much to offer those interested in understanding the subjective dimensions shaping media production, reception, consumption, and use. Q methodology can be described as a methodological hybrid that is neither qualitative nor quantitative, but draws on some of the strengths of both traditions. It thus combines the mathematical rigor of quantitative methods with ...

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