How the Perceptions of “wild nature” amongst walkers feed into attitudes towards wind farms in the Scottish Borders
By Megan Blyth
For my dissertation, I am looking into how perceptions of “wild nature” among walkers feed into attitudes towards wind farms in the Scottish Borders. To do this, I’ve set myself the mad task of using multiple methods: walk-along interviews, participant photography and focus group discussions. As I am investigating quite abstract concepts, these methods have all proven to not only be mutually reinforcing but also a useful combination to gather rich data on more perceptual and subjective measurements of human-environment relationships.
In the spirit of full disclosure, however, walk-along interviews are hard. The informality of the process makes it quite hard to get what you want out of the participants whilst remaining conversational. To be honest, I am still developing my skills in steering conversations. Also, the group walk setting means that many of the participants could be conversing amongst themselves about topics I may find incredibly useful, but was not there to record as there is only one me and one recorder. That being said, the walk-along interviews are a fantastic way of gathering some in-situ insights into how people relate to surrounding environments. The visual immediacy of the surroundings also offers the participants way to illustrate what they are talking about, helping them and also myself as the researcher.