A Methodological Approach to the Study of Urban Memory: Narratives about Mexico City

Martha de Alba


This article serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, I seek to understand social representations and the collective memory of a sample of older adults, resident in the metropolitan area of Mexico City. On the other hand, I wish to reflect on the methodology used to achieve that objective, placing special emphasis on the combination of two complementary techniques: Atlas.ti, a tool used to carry out a semantic analysis of the interviews, and Alceste, a program that makes it possible to observe a classification of the terms used by respondents based on a statistical analysis of co-occurrences.

The article is structured in the following order. Firstly, I explain the theoretical presuppositions that sustain the study. Secondly, I look at the methodology used, the reasons why I decided to use the software in question, and the analysis strategies for the interviews. Finally, I present the results obtained, and close with a final discussion on the relevance of the general methodology of the study for analyzing urban memory.

The results indicate different levels of analysis of extensive narratives about the past experience of a great city like Mexico City; from the individual level that allows Atlas.ti up to a collective level (gender differences, location or socioeconomic status) that prioritizes Alceste. I discuss the limitations of these software tools to analyze experiences that have continuity in time and space, as well in the incorporation of space as a complex category of analysis.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1202276


urban memory; Mexico City; sociospatial representations; life course; elderly; qualitative computing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-13.2.1854

Copyright (c) 2012 Martha de Alba

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