Monday, February 23, 2015

Coupling Geographic Information Analysis Techniques with Ethnographic Methods in Urban Research

This article that I have selected to write about emphasizes on how GIS has recently been adopted in the ethnographic component of the Welfare Project. We must understand that when the Welfare Project was being created, GIS was not thought as an original design. We can identify some of the
challenges and opportunities faced in promoting GIS within multi-site ethnography and describe some of the ways we have used GIS to facilitate distance-based ethnography. One advantage of the mapping and data visualization capabilities of a GIS is that the system can handle data collected on multiple spatial scales.
This image is just one example on how we can use GIS to map population densities 
The Welfare Project includes a focus on children and child development, includes a disability component, incorporates qualitative data from an extensive ongoing family and neighborhood ethnography, includes both welfare recipients and non-recipients, is based in three different geographical contexts, and is longitudinal in design. Within the Welfare Project, we characterize the ethnography as being one of ‘‘structured discovery,’’ an approach that focuses on primary research topics while building in sufficient flexibility to capture emergent themes and unanticipated information.

The coordinating site pursued multiple strategies to introduce GIS concepts and methods to ethnographers. Throughout the project we have worked with one or more sites to create new and integrate existing geospatial databases within a GIS framework. The intent was both to demonstrate to the sites what we could do with the data they collect and to encourage the collection of geographic
identifiers, however crude, on the location of family activities and neighborhood resources within each city.


  1. GIS should have been directly used with welfare distribution and better allocate funds to those who truly need them whereas for years people have exploited the system.

  2. In relation to social welfare, GIS can adequately portray areas in greater need of resources. The mapping can make comparisons across the country which can facilitate a more equal distribution of resources.