Dr Alasdair Stewart
- Lecturer in Social and Public Policy (Urban Studies)
I’m Alasdair B R Stewart – a sociologist based in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. I’m currently working as a Research Fellow and Data Lead in the GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Health and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC). I’m also a Co-Investigator for a Health Foundation funded qualitative project on the policy discourse and lived experience of employment and welfare conditionality for people with mental health problems.
I’m interested in how large-scale social processes, state-crafting, and social policy enter into and shape lived experience and inequality. My work explores this across three key overlapping areas: homelessness and dwelling; social suffering and (mental) wellbeing; and, precarity and social security.
Methodologically, I take a post-philosophical and theoretical-empirical approach, eschewing building general theoretical systems in favour of developing theory through an engagement with empirical investigation.
This approach carries also into a refusal to separate the technical aspects of research from considerations of their theoretical and ethical implications. In particular, how the dominance of proprietary qualitative data analysis software hinders methodological innovation and adoption of open science within qualitative research.
To counter this, I’m the Lead Developer of PythiaQDA, a free and open source qualitative data analysis software package in (very) early development aimed towards placing control of the means of analysis back into the hands of qualitative researchers.
My areas of interest include:
- state-crafting and social policy
- lived experience and inequality
- homelessness, dwelling, and habitation
- social suffering and (mental) wellbeing
- precarity and social security
- post-philosophical sociology and theoretical-empirical research
- open source software and open science
- the use of qualitative data analysis software in research
Constellations is a personal blog and ‘open notebook’ existing in two halves. The main Constellations website is used for longer posts as well as updates about events and publications. The ‘Mini Constellations‘ Tumblr blog is used for smaller posts – such as quotes, short aside, and links to podcasts and articles.
Functioning as a notebook, no posts aspire to any academic standard. Instead, as with most academic blogs, it is an outlet for thinking at various stages of development.
Theory Reading Group
The Theory Reading Group is a transdisciplinary reading group open to all staff and students at the University of Glasgow, with the overall aim of providing an inclusive and informal space in which to discuss theory in all its forms.
Rather than focusing on a single theorist or text, the group takes a thematic approach. Each academic year we pick a theme and discuss a broad range of short readings that relate to it. Additionally, we use a broad definition of ‘theory’ incorporating philosophy, social theory, and theoretically informed empirical research.
PythiaQDA is free and open source software for qualitative and mixed-methods data analysis in (very) early development. PythiaQDA is not ‘free’ merely in price – the goal of the project is to restore control of the means of analysis back to researchers, giving them the freedom to use, study, share, and modify the software however they want.
It provides a Python based API for managing and analysing qualitative data as well as a familiar and easy to learn user interface. The design philosophy emphasises modularity and extensibility to empower users to adapt the software to their analysis workflow and encourage the development of new innovative methods.
Longer-term the project seeks to facilitate greater adoption of open science within qualitative research. Planned features such as “quote objects” maintain ties between sources, analysis, and presentation – creating new ways to analyse and share your findings with colleagues and the wider public.
You have nothing to lose but your licence fees!