Quantitative researchers are conducting a growing number of studies in the Global South. To recognize the diversity of regions within the Global South in general and within nations in particular our classical container models of space (equalizing culture and nation) face more and more difficulties to adequately grasp spatial dynamics. Potential new directions for quantitative studies are central, firstly in the search for adequate units of analysis at flexible regional levels and secondly to incorporate fine-tuned spatial characteristics in our methodological approaches.
Our aim in this session is to look for fruitful intersections between the discipline of social geography and sociology to include spatial information in our broad range of quantitative methods in the social sciences. Due to technological advancements, researchers now have new ways to operationalize data and to measure them with greater accuracy. The new low-cost options for data acquisition ensure that empirically relevant information can be obtained at precise “resolutions” within very small-scale spatial units. One of the most prominent directions in this regard is to link GIS data with survey data. Here, it is possible to uncover different spatial layers and to measure their impact on the living conditions or attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of individuals. This method—using the advances of the mediatization of the social world and the new benefits of digitalization—is perfectly tailored to enhance our knowledge of spatial dynamics at the micro level. Across various countries and regions on a global scale we are able to obtain precise measures of local characteristics, which can be interpreted as clear signs of the social production of space. Additionally, the preciseness of GIS data reflects even higher standards compared to surveys, which are often susceptible to bias. Using the quality criteria of quantitative research, we can state that physical/material data can be seen as reliable and valid to measure infrastructure at the local level. Of course these data can be notably enriched by data on living conditions or attitudinal and behavioral dynamics based on survey data or alternative quantitative approaches.
In short, we are looking forward to receive submissions concerning studies which have been conducted in the Global South. Especially regarding the dominance of Western based approaches we still know only little about how data is collected and how different methodological approaches are combined in other world regions. We therefore particularly welcome studies from Africa and other regions focusing on new methods and innovative solutions to achieve a spatially integrated methodology.