Analytical components of mental mapping in sociological studies of conflicts


The paper focuses on theoretical and methodological achievements in the sociology of conflict, particularly the adaptation and development of mental mapping method. The main objective of the study is to define, characterize and specify the basic analytical components of mental mapping with regard to studying a conflict as a social phenomenon. Mental map is defined as an image or model of outer space gradually formed over time in subject’s consciousness. The method of mental mapping was described as a graphic representation of certain area by informant at researcher’s request. The classical concepts of mental mapping and their application in the studies of conflicts are presented in the historical retrospective. Thus, there is an overview of particular cases of the mental mapping methodology implementation, such as the study of relationships between communication channels and perceptions of dangerous urban areas in Los Angeles, the translocal identity of Polish emigrants’ children in Scotland, the “micro-geography of emotions” of migrant children in Paris and Berlin, the perception of Milan by migrants, the conflict topology imaginations of high school students of Israel and Palestine, spatial projections of social conflicts in Cyprus, North Ireland, Belgium, and Ukraine. Authors suggest theoretical and methodological generalization of the mental mapping of conflicts based on the approach of Jack Gieseking or the “Gieseking matrix” composed of four categories (mechanics of method, graphic elements, narratives of place and personalization), each of which contains a set of analytic components and techniques (a total of 57 units). The paper outlines the methodological specifics of analytical components in mental mapping of conflict, and notes the integrative interdisciplinary potential and the prospects for the development of this method.

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