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2.1  Main methods in qualitative research  

A qualitative case study is a research methodology that helps in exploration of a phenomenon within some particular context through various data sources, and it undertakes the exploration through variety of lenses in order to reveal multiple facets of the phenomenon (Baxter and Jack, 2008).


Rashid et al., Case Study Method: A Step-by-Step Guide for Business Researchers

(Rashid et al., 2019, p.2).

[77] Although the observations conducted in this research are not as methodologically extensive as the ethnographic research methods, it is not the main purpose of the research to use ethnography as a method.

[78] For instance, even among biologist they differ in the value proposition of whether to work with/integrate non-native or hybrid species for the future due to climate change. They also differ on their approach to nature conservation, be it to revive the former “nature” of the past, or whether to work with new species that may also be suitable for the area of interest. This is a complex discussion and debate among biologists/ecologists influenced by different views on nature based on various schools of thought.

[79] A case study method emphasises the importance of contextual factors that should be considered in seeking explanations of a phenomenon of interest, even though being context-dependent may limit the generalisability of research implications. Furthermore, as a context driven research majority of the literature reviews of the state-of-the-art projects, relevant theories and GIS data were filtered by their relevance to the context of Vejle.



The Case Study Method in Qualitative research

This research deploys the case study method in qualitative research to understand a complex real-world phenomenon of addressing sea level rise (and storm surge) on urban development. The findings are derived from qualitative empirical data, such as interviews, workshops, site visits, Kanten/The Edge competition winning entries, and stakeholder meetings[77] (see section 4.1.1). The research is predominantly about problem identification, data collection and generating insights about seaweed’s “new” and “unknown” potentials in the East Jutland context. This type of qualitative knowledge production proposes new paradigms –concepts, meanings or cultural critique, as well as material constructs, such as spatial forms of landscapes-seascapes and urban environments (Lenzholzer, Duchhart and Koh, 2013). While the knowledge generated from this research is embedded in a constantly changing physical and social context, such insights may be difficult to generalise. However, certain parts of the knowledge can be transferable as a conceptual approach (i.e. such as the Urban Seascaping propositions), and the processes of research design can also be applied in different contexts (research contributions are explored in Part V).

     For case study research, my role as a researcher (and participant in some cases) is used as a “tool” for data collection and analysis through my tacit knowledge, observational skills, gaining the trust of the participants/interviewees, the ability to extract and assess the appropriate information. Furthermore, my integrative, reflective and analytical abilities and experiences in the context of Vejle are important to draw meaningful and critical extrapolations of the phenomenon of interest and data (Yin, 2017). This was especially the case when participating in the deliberation meetings with the judges for Kanten/The Edge competition, where observations on the comments made by the different actors were interpreted through one’s individual and collective value propositions. For instance, some politicians expressed more concerns about the city's economic growth, whereas the biologist was more concerned with the ecological health of natural systems.

 The same relativism applies to semi-structured interviews with experts, such as marine biologists[78], presenting different value propositions.

     In sum, the research uses three main methods (qualitative research) of investigation to answer the research questions (RQ):


  1. A single case study site of Vejle[79] - as one of the representatives of coastal conditions in East Jutland, with an investigation into the Kanten/The Edge design competition brief and entries as empirical design data (refer to Figure 29) to answer the main RQ and SRQ1.

  2. Fieldwork - Site visits, participation in workshops and meetings contributed to data collection. For instance, several site visits to Vejle resulted in accompanying photographs, videos, sketches and field notes (refer to section 2.1.2). Notes taken from various workshops and meetings with Vejle Municipality contribute to research findings (refer to Appendix 11 and 12).

  3. A literature review of academic papers (both white and grey) and other found data (i.e. municipal strategic documents and GIS data) informed the main theoretical proposition of Urban Seascaping (see section 3.3). Moreover, the initial focus on seaweed played an important role in helping keep the enormously complex task of reviewing transdisciplinary knowledge in a targeted manner.

    1. Review of the state-of-the-art (S-O-T-A) (i.e. mini-case studies) projects, worldviews and coastal adaptation strategies (both realised and speculative). The analysis of S-O-T-A showcases alternatives to the current B-A-U of coastal urban developments.

  4. Semi-structured interviews of different stakeholders and experts as a method of attaining and testing insights, knowledge and data unable to be acquired via literature review (refer to section 2.1.1).

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