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The Electronic Journal of Communication / La Revue Electronique de Communication


Volume 1 September 1990 No. 1

Q Methodology and Communication:
Theory and Applications
La methode Q et la communication:
theorie et analyses

Editors/Les editeurs

Irvin Goldman, University of Windsor
Steven Brown, Kent State U.


ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION
LA REVUE ELECTRONIQUE DE COMMUNICATION

A Message From the Journal Editors

With this issue we realize the beginning of an exciting and bold new venture: electronic "publishing." Our goals are numerous, including the desire to be environmentally friendly and save trees, to expand beyond the reach of traditional journals from hundreds of subscribers into the thousands, saving time and cost for all involved, allowing more lengthy and in-depth articles, expanding on the outlets for communication scholarship, and above all, maintaining the highest standards for peer review and academic excellence.

We are, one might say, quite conscious of the debate surrounding this new virtual medium, and although we can't see many disadvantages (at least for the present), we welcome submissions on this debate for publication.

This first issue, guest edited by Irvin Goldman and Steven Brown, is an outstanding beginning. We are grateful to these two scholars for their substantial efforts, and to all of the contributors, who bring with them international reputations in their fields.

The choice of "Q Methodology and Communication" as the topic of our first issue is appropriate for reasons other than the ability and willingness of our editors and contributors. This field and its progenitors has served as the focal point, historically, for many of the philosophical questions which, as communication scholars, we continue to address.

We remain open to a broad range of approaches to communication, and solicit contributions, as well as ideas and editors for future special issues.

Special thanks are owed to Teri Harrison and Tim Stephen of Comserve, at Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York, and to the other members of the editorial board.


Un message de la part des editeurs de la Revue

Avec ce premier numero, nous nous lancons dans une aventure fascinante, l'edition electronique. Nos buts sont multiples: sauvegarder les forets, rejoindre des milliers d'abonnees plutot que les centaines des revues traditionnelles, epargner temps et argent pour tous les interesses, permettre des articles plus substantiels et, surtout, atteindre l'excellence, autant dans le processus d'evaluation des articles que dans le tenue generale de la Revue.

Nous sommes tres conscients des debats qui ont cours autour de l'existence meme de ce nouveau media sans support "dur." Selon un de ses defenseur, ce media possede un potentiel revolutionnaire permettant aux savants "d'ecrire dans le ciel." Nous serons heureux de recevoir toute contribution a ce debat.

Ce premier numero a ete realise sous la direction de Steven Brown et Irvin Goldman. Nous pensons qu'il s'agit d'une extraordinaire "premiere fois." Nous remercions nos erudits collegues pour ce travail considerable. Nous remercions aussi tous les auteurs qui nous ont fait l'honneur de partager avec la Revue leur notoriete internationale.

Le theme de ce numero, la Methode Q et la communication, s'est impose pour des raisons qui depassent la volonte et la capacite de ses responsables et de ses auteurs. En effet, ce domaine et ses initiateurs ont ete au centre de plusieurs discussions d'ordre philosophique qui continuent d'interesser les chercheurs en communication.

Dans cette Revue, nous voulons publier des textes provenant d'un large eventail d'ecoles et de methodes interessees aux communications. Nous souhaitons donc vivement recevoir des propositions d'articles, de themes ou de collegues prets a diriger un numero.

Jim Winter et Claude Martin


Q METHODOLOGY AND COMMUNICATION:
Theory and Application

British physicist-psychologist William Stephenson (1902-1989) died a year ago, and doubtless his most significant bequest to science is Q methodology, a body of philosophy and theory concerning human subjectivity, and including a set of procedures (Q sorting, factor analysis) designed to provide evidence for conjectures in the subjective domain. The field of communication was recipient of a generous portion of Stephenson's thinking, his most notable contribution being THE PLAY THEORY OF MASS COMMUNICATION (University of Chicago Press, 1967; Transaction Books, 1988), which Wilbur Schramm praised and which John Rowan, in his THE STRUCTURED CROWD, placed on par with the works of McLuhan, Ellul, and Marcuse. We are therefore pleased that the ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMMUNICATION/LA REVUE ELECTRONIQUE DE COMMUNICATION has commissioned its premier issue to address the applicability of Q methodology to communication.

The contributions to this issue display great variety:

Bruce McKeown summarizes Q methodology's underlying scientific basis, tying it to hermeneutics. He also provides an overview of the technicalities of Q methodology, which subsequent authors take for granted; readers whose memories may require freshening with respect to Q sorting, correlation, and factor analysis are therefore urged to read this paper before the others.

Irvin Goldman provides an overview of certain epistemological principles of Q methodology, illustrated by a single-case study of culture based on Lasch's theory of narcissism.

Keith P. Sanders and Daniel N. Morris demonstrate the fruitful use of Q methodology in an oral-history study of contributors to a 1930s proletarian literary magazine.

Steven R. Brown and Margaret Mathieson demonstrate the applicability of Q to I.A. Richards' principles of practical criticism, illustrated in terms of poetic interpretation.

Rex and Wendy Stainton Rogers posit a special British understanding of Q methodology, rooted in social constructionism and illustrated in a study of addiction.

The diversity of these papers provides a mere peephole into the breadth of Stephenson's thought, which has ranged from Newton's fifth rule to quantum theory, from psychoanalysis to corporate decisionmaking, from advertising soap to the amelioration of international tensions, and much more. Readers interested in pursuing these matters further should consult OPERANT SUBJECTIVITY: THE Q METHODOLOGY NEWSLETTER (Vol. 14, 1990-1991), the back index to which is maintained by Comserve; and/or attend the annual meetings of the International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity ("Q Conference") at the University of Missouri, this year's being scheduled for October 25-27.


LA METHODE Q ET LA COMMUNICATION
Theorie et analyses

Le medecin et psychologue britannique William Stephenson (1902-1989) est mort il y a un an. La Methode Q demeure sans doute son plus important legs scientifique. Il s'agit d'un corpus theorique et philosophique relatif a la subjectivite humaine. Cet ensemble comprend des techniques (les groupes Q, l'analyse des facteurs) capables de permettre l'interpretation du domaine subjectif. Les etudes en communication ont amplement profite de la pensee de Stephenson. On retiendra surtout THE PLAY THEORY OF MASS COMMUNICATION (Presses de l'Universite de Chicago, 1967; Transactions Books, 1988), un ouvrage apprecie par Wilburt Schramm et John Rowan. Dans THE STRUCTURED CROWD, ce dernier le range aux cotes de McLuhan, Ellul et Marcuse. Nous sommes donc heureux que la REVUE ELECTRONIQUE DE COMMUNICATION nous ait confie comme mission de realiser son premier numero en discutant de l'application de la Methode Q a la communication.

On trouvera dans ce numero une bonne variete d'approches.

Bruce McKeown resume les bases scientifiques de la methode Q en les reliant a l'hermeneutique. Il nous propose aussi un survol des techniques de la Methode Q, techniques prises pour acquis par les auteurs qui suivent. Les lecteurs qui cherchent un rappel des techniques de formation des groupes Q, de correlation et d'analyse des facteurs y trouveront une matiere utile pour la lecture des textes qui suivent.

Irvin Goldman presente un resume des principes epistemologiques de la Methode Q et il les illustre par une etude culturelle a cas unique sur la base de la theorie du narcissisme de Lasch.

Keith P. Sanders et Daniel N. Morris nous montrent un emploi utile de la Methode Q dans le cas de l'histoire orale de certains collaborateurs d'un magazine litteraire proletarien des annees 1930.

Steven R. Brown et Margaret Mathieson demontent que la Methode Q s'applique aux principes de la critique empirique de I.A. Richard et ils l'illustrent avec la cas de l'interpretation poetique.

Rex et Wendy Stainton Rogers nous montrent une vision britannique particuliere de la Methode Q, une vision enracinee dans le constructionisme social et illustree par une etude de l'intoxication.

Cette diversite ne fait que fournir un apercu de l'ampleur de la pensee de Stephenson. Celle-ci a tour a tour considere la cinquieme loi de Newton et la theorie quantique, la psychanalyse et le processus de decision dans les entreprises, la publicite pour les savons et les moyens de reduire les tensions internationales. Les lecteurs interesses a approfondir ces questions pourront consulter OPERANT SUBJECTIVITY: THE Q METHODOLOGY NEWSLETTER (vol. 14, 1990-1991) dont on trouve l'index chez le serveur Comserve. On pourra aussi participer a l'assemblee annuelle de l'International Society for the Scientific Study of Subjectivity ("Q Conference") a l'Universite du Missouri, du 25 au 27 octobre de cette annee.

Irvin Goldman
Steven R. Brown
Issue Co-Editors


Copyright 1990
Communication Institute for Online Scholarship, Inc.