The current presentation aims to invite discussion around the possibility or impossibility of using Q methodology to infer potential national trends with regard to dominant and alternative discourses. This will be achieved by presenting cross-national Q data from a study looking at discourses of sexual relationships in Germany and England.
Q methodology was used to explore discourses drawn on by 105 young people between 16 and 19 from Germany and England when making sense of sexual relationships.
Using PCA and varimax rotation, six discourses emerged: Sex as responsible, intimate and shared experience; Sex as joint fun; Ideal vs reality; Sex has to be responsible, consensual and shared; Caring relationships offer the perfect context for fulfilling sex; and Equality between partners.
The author concluded that the data appeared to show national trends with regard to dominant and alternative discourses around sexual relationships based on the distribution of German and English participants across the 6 factors and assertions from previous research.
Considering Q methodology’s qualitative nature, claims regarding national level differences of emergent discourses have to be made with caution. However, as with all qualitative methods, trends might appear in the data, which, although they cannot be seen as authoritative, can give an indication of possible national level differences. Exploring views around this with an audience that are knowledgeable of the premises and assumptions of Q methodology appears a useful activity furthering our understanding of Q methodology’s remit.