Making Thinking Visible with Atlas.ti: Computer Assisted Qualitative Analysis as Textual Practices

  • Zdeněk Konopásek Center for Theoretical Study, Praha
Keywords: CAQDAS, analytic practices, grounded theory methodology, thinking, visualisation, textuality, reading and writing, humans and machines


How is a new quality of reading, which we call "sociological understanding", created during the process of qualitative analysis? A methodological (conventional) answer to this question usually speaks of mental processes and conceptual work. This paper suggests a different view—sociological rather than methodological; or more precisely a view inspired by a contemporary sociology of science. It describes qualitative analysis as a set of material practices. Taking grounded theory methodology and the work with the computer programme Atlas.ti as an example, it is argued that thinking is inseparable from doing even in this domain. It is argued that by adopting the suggested perspective we might be better able to speak of otherwise hardly graspable processes of qualitative analysis in more accountable and instructable ways. Further, software packages would be better understood not only as "mere tools" for coding and retrieving, but also as complex virtual environments for embodied and practice-based knowledge making. Finally, grounded theory methodology might appear in a somewhat different light: when described not in terms of methodological or theoretical concepts but rather in terms of what we practically do with the analysed data, it becomes perfectly compatible with the radical constructivist, textualist, or even post-structuralist paradigms of interpretation (from which it has allegedly departed by a long way). URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802124


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Author Biography

Zdeněk Konopásek, Center for Theoretical Study, Praha
Zdeněk KONOPÁSEK ( is sociologist at the Center for Theoretical Study, the Institute for Advanced Studies of Charles University in Prague and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Also, he is member of the sociology department at the Faculty of Social Studies, Masaryk University in Brno. His main areas currently are STS (science and technology studies), especially the relationship between science and politics in socio-technical controversies, and qualitative research methods. He edited Our Lives as Database: Doing a Sociology of Ourselves—Czech Social Transitions in Autobiographical Research Dialogues (Charles University Press 2000). Since 1994, he is editor-in-chief of Biograf (, a Czech and Slovak peer-reviewed journal for social qualitative research.
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