Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
MAPPING USES AND METHODS*

Murray Melbin

MAPPING is essentially a way of organizing and recording observations. Its use in research is especially appropriate if the locations and movements of persons in social space are relevant to their locations and movements in physical space. In spite of Lovelace's claim in 1649, "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage," we often assume that features of the physical environment set limits to human action. This chapter is about those research tools which explicitly incorporate this assumption. Diagrams, floor plans, flow charts, aerial photos, and similar visual materials are classed here as maps along with more formal cartograms. To highlight their varied applications, I will first discuss maps as they have been or might be used in the progressive steps of a research project. Following this survey of uses, some methodological problems will be reviewed.


USES

Phrasing Issues and Hypotheses

Much of the value in using any research method comes from its appropriateness to some question the researcher has raised or is trying to answer. If well stated, the question itself frequently will point to a particular research tool. The following items illustrate a range of map usages stemming from concern with ties between physical space and social relations.

The utility of combining physical and social distances on a single data sheet has been demonstrated by Green ( 1956), who noted that rich people live in larger houses, set farther apart from one another, than do poor people. An aerial photo revealed the spatial pattern common to physical and social structures of a city.

In a study of the incidence of emotional disorder in a suburban town

____________________
*
An original contribution, prepared for this volume.

-255-

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