Qualitative GIS to Relate Perceptions with Behaviors among Fishers on Risky, Rocky Coasts



Publication Details

Kamstra, P., Cook, B., Kennedy, D. M. & Brennan-Horley, C. (2019). Qualitative GIS to Relate Perceptions with Behaviors among Fishers on Risky, Rocky Coasts. Professional Geographer, 71 (3), 491-506.


This article presents an innovative mixed methodology that integrates qualitative geographic information systes (GIS) methods to expand the examination of space in the context of people's lived experiences and risk. We emphasize the specific ways in which individuals perceive risk by treating risk as relational. Conceptualizing risk as relational challenges traditional assumptions of risk by rejecting that risk is the combination of physical and social elements. Instead, a relational understanding explores the socioenvironmental interactions that are perceived as hazardous, as they emerge in space. Such claims have long animated risk research, but only recently have methodological advances opened opportunities for relational analyses. Using hazardous coasts as the case, we analyze rock fishers' risk perceptions and whether those perceptions influence their movement. Analytically, we relate rock fishers' Global Positioning System movement with participant observations, video, semistructured interviews, and sketch maps anchored to questions focusing on spatial understandings of risk. In doing so, fishers' perceptions of socioenvironmental stimuli are spatially represented, with sketch mapping as a window into the perception-environment interactions that produce risk. This methodology opens new possibilities for understanding human-environment systems that typically overlook how, where, and for how long risky human-environment interactions are perceived in space, if at all. Key Words: qualitative GIS, relational, risk, risk perception, space.

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