Neogeography and the democratization of GIS: a metasynthesis of qualitative research

Denise Byrne, Alison Pickard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Neogeography is the name given to the phenomenon of the vastly expanded Geographic Information Systems (GIS) user base. It consists of a collection of practices, tools and users generally found outside of traditional, authoritative GIS. GIS are computer applications that allow users to contribute geotagged data and to access and utilize geospatial data sets in combination with attribute information for a variety of purposes. This paper investigates questions of whether neogeography furthers the democratization of GIS and if increased access translates to empowerment or, conversely, to further marginalization. The research is interpretative and involves a literature review of the topic and a metasynthesis of recent qualitative research. Metasynthesis involves critical evaluation of data to identify an appropriate research sample and synthesis of findings by a compare-and-contrast exercise followed by reciprocal translation of each study into the other studies to reveal overarching metaphors. This is followed by conclusions and recommendations. The findings show that, depending on circumstances, neogeography can result in the democratization of GIS and geospatial data but may also constitute new methods of exclusion depending on technological and societal barriers. Neogeography can also result in empowerment, but this is difficult to define and is often highly contingent on local context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1505-1522
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2016


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