Problem-centred interviews were used for the data collection (Witzel 1989). These followed guidelines which suggested potential questions about the following themes:
• experience with nature
• time spent “in nature”
• importance of the natural world during childhood
• type of relationship with nature
• awareness and evaluation of changes in nature during recent years in the region where the interviewee lives
• desired landscape developments
The questions could be used as narration prompts if necessary, but the interviewee determined how the talk developed and the order in which the themes were discussed.
The expressions “wilderness” and “wilderness spread” were avoided throughout the interviews as they may have negative connotations (Strem – low and Sidler 2002). Instead phrases such as “not influencing nature”, “having less influence”, “leaving nature more to its own devices”, and so on were used.
Each interview lasted between 90 and 120 minutes. They were all recorded and later transcribed.
Table 1. Demographic data on the interviewees
Average age of the interviewees = 47, standard deviation = 17.13 years. Distribution according to sex: 7 female and 8 male interviewees.
Analysis of the interviews
All the interviews were independently evaluated by two people according to Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss 1998).
(1) The transcripts were analysed line by line to identify any comments expressing attitudes about the spread of wilderness and the reasons given for these attitudes. These parts of the text were then given brief labels to summarise the contents. The resulting codes were considered in context, i. e. they were compared with other statements in the interviews. Similar statements were then grouped into categories. Some of the findings from the evaluation of the interviews were used to add themes to the guidelines if they had not already been documented or to give them more weight in subsequent interviews.
(2) In the intrapersonal case reconstruction, the arguments of the individual interviewees were analysed in depth, summarised and crosschecked for logical consistency. We then checked whether the categories already proposed took such arguments adequately into account.
All the steps in the evaluation were carried out for each interview by two people working independently. Only when these steps had been completed did the analysts discuss their results. Both evaluations, however, resulted in each case in a typology with three different views, with the two typologies matching quite well. The underlying categories in the two evaluations were also largely identical.
At the end of the evaluation process, a short list of key categories was drawn up and a typology proposed. This typology described the most important positions in the relationship between people, wilderness, and wilderness spread, with the “typical” grouping of the categories and the category characteristics.