Data collection

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

No.

Age

Sex

Occupation

1

30

M

Biologist

2

51

M

Management consultant

3

49

M

Forester

4

52

M

Farmer

5

32

F

Clerical worker

6

46

M

Engineer

7

52

M

Lawyer

8

82

M

Town clerk

9

56

F

Housewife

10

67

F

Careers officer

11

26

F

Student

12

23

M

Car mechanic

13

39

F

Bank businesswoman

14

69

F

Teacher

15

31

F

Graphic artist

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.