The Social Construction of a Scientific Community: CAQDAS

Urszula Wolski

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Using and adapting a social worlds perspective, the thesis looks at the history and development of a scientific community: the CAQDAS (Computer Assisted
Qualitative Data Analysis Software) community. CAQDAS have been around for
over 30 years, but since its inception little empirical work has been done on the effects of CAQDAS. The development of CAQDAS was the result of the intersection of two social worlds, the computing world and the social science world. The thesis identifies three main interrelated processes that led to the development of the CAQDAS world: initial conception, propagation and reception.

The thesis also examines how knowledge of CAQDAS was propagated to the wider social science community via informal and formal social networks. Informal social networks, also known as ‘invisible colleges’ were paramount in the early propagation of CAQDAS. However, the development of interactive technologies such as email and the internet enabled further expansion and diffusion of CAQDAS, resulting in an online world.

As social worlds expand and segment with other worlds, different groups with
differing opinions will emerge. Reception to new technologies is often not without controversy but is seen as an essential part of a social world, one that is necessary for the world to evolve. Reception of CAQDAS was and remains mixed. Some researchers welcomed the use of the tools to assist with data analysis, whilst others were more sceptical, resulting in a number of debates surrounding the software. The thesis discusses these debates in detail and argues that some debates are not approaching resolution, nor are they likely, instead they have re-emerged on an online discussion list; Qual-software: a list set up specifically to discuss issues relating to CAQDAS.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Gabe, Jonathan, Supervisor
Award date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015

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