Multiple Ways of Seeing. Reflections on an Image-Based Q Study on Reconciliation in Colombia


  • Anika Oettler Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Ilona Stahl Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Luisa Betancourt Macuase Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Myriell Fusser Philipps-Universität Marburg



Q methodology, Q sorts, subjectivity, hybrids, mixed methods research, image-based research, reconciliation, Colombia


Q methodology was created as a means to explore and map subjective viewpoints in a systematic, relational and holistic manner. In this paper, we discuss Q methodology as a promising hybrid approach and present methodological takeaways from an online Q study on the meanings of reconciliation in Colombia, based on data obtained in 2021. Q is a method of capturing subjectivity that conveys an aura of objectivity, because researchers seldom explicitly engage subjectivity We provide a brief overview of our research project, showcase some results, and offer a lens through which to reflect on the entanglement of qualitative and quantitative moments in Q methodology. We spell out its interpretive layers, highlighting the role of subjectivity in two key phases of the research: the design of the study (image-based Q items) and the interpretive process (factor analysis). Although the quantitative moments of Q are seductive in their promise of objective factor analytical measurement, we argue that Q requires researchers to practice reflexivity and to explicitly engage with their subjectivity.


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Author Biographies

Anika Oettler, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Anika OETTLER is a professor of sociology at Philipps-University, Marburg and associate researcher at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg. She has widely published on peace, collective memory and transitional justice. She is particularly interested in exploring new research practices and ways of understanding the social world.

Ilona Stahl, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Ilona STAHL, at the time of this writing, is about to complete her M.A. in peace and conflict studies at Philipps-University Marburg. Her research interests include collective memory, transitional justice, forced migration, feminist and postcolonial theories.

Luisa Betancourt Macuase, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Luisa BETANCOURT MACUASE obtained a double degree M.A. in peace and conflict studies from Kent University and Philipps-University Marburg. Her research interests are peacebuilding, social movements, diaspora, exile and victims. Currently, she is preparing her PhD project.

Myriell Fusser, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Myriell FUSSER is a researcher at the Institute of Sociology at Philipps-University Marburg. She obtained her M.A. degree in international development studies from Philipps-University Marburg. Her research interests include collective memory, transnational migration, post-development and postcolonial theories, and conflict transformation. In her PhD project, she examines the intergenerational and transnational memory of Cuban transformations.


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How to Cite

Oettler, A., Stahl, I., Betancourt Macuase, L., & Fusser, M. (2024). Multiple Ways of Seeing. Reflections on an Image-Based Q Study on Reconciliation in Colombia: . Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 25(1).



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