For over a year, members of the NOISE Project have been coding responses from interviews that were conducted over the summer of 2019. During the coding process, we scan interview answers for their main ideas, and then assign them words or phrases that capture these themes. These words and phrases are called codes. For more information on coding, check out Mateo Castelli’s video here!
Each week, we’ll outline our “Moment of the Week,” in which we share an interesting coding discussion.
Here’s this week’s!
What they said:
Question 5: “What are the similarities and differences between how you work at your organization and how you work within the collaboration between the Cornell Lab and Community Partners?”
How We Coded It
- The interviewee begins by stating that in the project, they are “communicating quite directly.” From this, we simply applied the code communication, as the interviewee discusses the way in which they communicate on the project.
- Importantly, the interviewee states that they communicate directly with “non-technical stakeholders,” and as a result of this, the interviewee has “less information than normal.” This perspective reveals a few important themes. Firstly, the individual states that they were unable to gain information from communicating with non-technical stakeholders, which implicitly questions the credibility—or lack thereof—of non-technical stakeholders. This notion that one cannot receive valuable information from those who do not have “technical” training or experience led us to apply the code science=elite, as the interviewee reaffirms the elitism of science by devaluing information obtained from those who they deem to lack “technical” scientific qualifications.
- This ties into the next point, regarding the use of the term “technical.” This answer raises questions as to how one defines “technical” vs “non-technical” stakeholders. Does one need a PHD to be technical? Must they possess a certain form of knowledge, namely that which is obtained from a four year university, to be considered technical? Who, or what, decides whether an individual is considered to be a “technical” stakeholder? This answer, when applied to the Noise Project, seems to suggest that community leaders who possess expertise of their communities are “non-technical stakeholders.” From this, we applied the code status-quo, as the response reinforces dominant narratives about the qualifications necessary to be considered technical. We also applied the code only one right way, from the notion that there is one right way—academic expertise—to be considered a technical stakeholder.
- Finally, the interviewee states that there are “a lot of voices” in the meetings—implicitly, one can understand this to mean that there are more voices present in Noise Project meetings than meetings in which the interviewee normally participates. We began by applying the surface level code voices. Additionally, this statement directly relates to themes of power and power hoarding. Power is defined as “the capacity to influence behaviors and course of events.” If individuals, or “voices,” are present in meetings, they will therefore have a greater ability to influence the events of the project, and thus, the number of voices present in a meeting directly influences the distribution of power in a given project or team. If there are in most cases just a few voices present in meetings, as the interviewee alludes to, this may be a case of power hoarding, in which there is “little, if any, value in sharing power.”
Question for thought:
Think about the term “technical”. How is this term conventionally used, and what does this term mean to you? What group or groups, if any, does the standard usage of this term benefit, and what groups does it detriment?
Do you agree with the codes we applied? Do you disagree? Are you comfortable with the thought process that took place? Let us know!