Historical Social Research

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Jannecke Rauscher: Grasping Cities through Literary Representations. A Mix of Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches to Analyze Crime Novels [Abstract]

Contemporary crime novels often contain detailed literary representations of urban life worlds. These stagings can provide access to city-specific patterns and structures of thought, action and feeling, as well as locally established bodies of knowledge and processes of sense-making. Therefore, their systematic analysis can generate insights into the intrinsic logic of cities. To grasp such patterns on city level a preferably broad empirical basis is needed, but the study of large amounts of literary works poses a methodological challenge. This article presents a mix of methods that permits the analysis of vast quantities of (literary) texts through combining the classical qualitative close reading with elements from computer-aided qualitative content analysis, basic instruments from corpus linguistics and the methodology of distant reading in an iterative research process. It illustrates how to analyze qualitative data also quantitatively and on different levels with regard to social and spatial aspects of the depicted life worlds, thereby showing how novels could be used as data basis for urban sociology and interdisciplinary research questions about the distinctiveness of cities.

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