Participating in the Research: Q Methodology Nicholas Scott - English Identity

My research project adopts a unique approach to research. This approach is called Q Methodology.

Q Methodology was first developed and used in the discipline of psychology to look at and better understand people’s individual perspective on issues related to the family, relationships, and other personal matters. My project seeks to use Q Methodology in a new way: to analyse and assess the subject viewpoints on European identity that exist in England.

Q Methodology is interactive and non-invasive form of data-gathering that focuses on participants’ personal opinions and beliefs, allowing for a greater degree of participant independence and engagement in comparison to more structured research designs. As a participant, you will be asked to read a set of roughly 40 short statements on European identity and Englishness. These statements were selected because they cover the vast majority of issues, ideas, and opinions related to European identity and Englishness that exist in the broader conversations surrounding the culture and politics of England, Britain, Europe, the EU, and Brexit.

The participant will be asked to organise the statements on a grid (see picture below). The grid is structured into a scale of most disagree to most agree; the middle of the grid is considered neutral. At the end of the participant’s sorting of the statements (called a ‘Q-sort’), all ~40 will be located somewhere on the grid in accordance with the participant’s own opinions/beliefs. Each Q-sorts is anonymous. Each participants’ Q-sort reflects their individual viewpoint on the topic of discussion, namely European identity in post-Brexit England.

All Q-sorts are then inputted into factor analysis software; the software will find correlations between individual Q-sorts, pooling them together. In turn, these clusters of Q-sorts will represent more widely held beliefs evident in the greater English population, leading to a degree of generalisability. These clusters of Q-sorts, now representing broader viewpoints, will be analysed by myself and incorporated into my PhD research project, serving as my first-hand fieldwork.