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Surveys as Maps

Taking off from the observation that surveys – whether conducted in person, by telephone, at a computer terminal, or on the internet – are necessarily interactional events involving language, I advance the notion that the topic of a survey is a kind of linguistic discourse with its own speakers (survey developers, survey administrators, and survey participants).  The survey is then a sort of verbal sample of this discourse, and those who answer the many questions of the survey position themselves (virtually, of course) relative to everyone else who takes the survey in a survey-topic-discursive space.  That being so, it becomes possible to map all of the survey participants in that discursive space.  In Chapters 7 and 8 of Mixed Methods: Interviews, Surveys, and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, I walk the reader through the exercise of creating such maps using graphic layout algorithms and the UCINET software program.  Readers who are interested in reproducing the graphs on page 153 (Figure 8:1) of the text will find the demonstration data set here.



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