Methodology

The methodology used in this project is threefold: Qualitative and quantitative studies and heuristic procedures (in the form of workshops).

For the qualitative studies we use focus group interviews (FGI) and in-depth interviews. FGI is an interview with a small group of people on a specific topic. The focus group interview is not a discussion, nor a problem-solving session and not a decision making group. It is an interview. In general, focus groups are conducted with people who do not know each other. The FGIs should deliver the concepts that are relevant from the perspectives of the senior citizens on the one hand and of the decision makers and experts on the other. As a completion of the qualitative approach, an elaboration of the concepts resulting from the FGI is necessary. This is best done with the help of narrative interviews (in-depth interviews). Their goal is to complete the range of arguments which have been collected in the FGI and to better specify and understand points of view about problems in today’s mobility.

The standardised study has the function to quantify the materials derived from the qualitative methods, and to arrive at a quantitative empirical representation. With respect to the quantitative part of the project, the focus group interviews and the in depth interviews have the function of elaborating patterns and types of need dispositions, attitudes and every day practices concerning life quality and mobility aspects. The standardised interviews will open an opportunity to analyse the frequency distribution of the relevant variables and their interrelations by applying complex procedures of data. The field work is done by professional institutes, and raw data will be delivered to the respective consortium partners, who will do the statistical analysis. The standardised interviews are carried out in every participant country to get the possibility for a comparative control of the results on the one hand, and on the other hand for the reason that in the end the results of this project are arguments for political decisions. To minimise the artefacts during the data collection and interpretation, for example because of translation problems, it is necessary to pre-test the standardised instrument before a larger sample will be interviewed. As far as representativity is concerned we see to it that the institutes which will carry out the statistical survey act according to the routines of empirical social research.

The third important part of work, besides qualitative and quantitative methods for the collection of verbal data is the heuristic part, represented by the workshops that we have planned. Due to the fact that there is a lack of knowledge and know-how (between different disciplines and different countries) on how to implement certain results in the traffic and mobility area, the amount of work and of resistance to be met with implementation is often assessed erroneously, there are ideological barriers based on misunderstandings and prejudices (e.g., cost-benefit relations in connection with elderly road users, etc .). According to our knowledge, there are no other methods to overcome these problems than “to work together”: Organisation psychology bases methods for solutions of the problems just mentioned on for example rules of group dynamics, the social-psychological principles of active rehearsal, communication principles (improved acceptance of messages due to better understanding and appreciation of the sender), etc. All this can be elaborated on better in the course of the project with the help of workshops. The workshops are also essential for the dissemination of results in a deeper sense, viz. in order to get support of relevant actors in connection with implementation. They are the most likely part of the work to have effects on the future, as new networks and alliances will emerge, as experiences about communication with each others will develop, etc. The workshops are also the main agent to bind the senior citizens associations to the project and to motivate and help them act efficiently as representatives of elderly citizens.

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