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Researching a sensitive topic in an unstable environment

Researching a sensitive topic in an unstable environment The purpose of this paper is to explore fieldwork dilemmas for a Pakhtun researcher, educated in the West, to research family or domestic violence in the unstable, hostile environment of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.Design/methodology/approachA gender studies approach is here combined with masculinities studies, and a critical qualitative research methodology is used in this study.FindingsThe paper argues that unstable regions dominated by certain forms of masculinity require specific research approaches when conducting research and addressing a topic that is culturally taboo.Practical implicationsThe paper suggests how the insider–outsider dynamic plays out for researchers who come from a particular field and return to it under changed circumstances. It also indicates how a taboo topic in a context where direct questioning is not possible might be approached through the use of vignettes.Social implicationsThe paper suggests how the contradictory position of a masculinity, simultaneously bearing traces of the hegemonic and of marginalization, may be negotiated in the field.Originality/valueSocial research on the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan is rarely conducted and reported due to the unrest in this region. The paper thus contributes original insights from fieldwork carried out there. It also contributes to the limited but growing literature on conducting fieldwork in hostile environments. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research Journal Emerald Publishing

Researching a sensitive topic in an unstable environment

Qualitative Research Journal , Volume 19 (3): 11 – Jun 4, 2019

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1443-9883
DOI
10.1108/qrj-02-2019-0013
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore fieldwork dilemmas for a Pakhtun researcher, educated in the West, to research family or domestic violence in the unstable, hostile environment of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan.Design/methodology/approachA gender studies approach is here combined with masculinities studies, and a critical qualitative research methodology is used in this study.FindingsThe paper argues that unstable regions dominated by certain forms of masculinity require specific research approaches when conducting research and addressing a topic that is culturally taboo.Practical implicationsThe paper suggests how the insider–outsider dynamic plays out for researchers who come from a particular field and return to it under changed circumstances. It also indicates how a taboo topic in a context where direct questioning is not possible might be approached through the use of vignettes.Social implicationsThe paper suggests how the contradictory position of a masculinity, simultaneously bearing traces of the hegemonic and of marginalization, may be negotiated in the field.Originality/valueSocial research on the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan is rarely conducted and reported due to the unrest in this region. The paper thus contributes original insights from fieldwork carried out there. It also contributes to the limited but growing literature on conducting fieldwork in hostile environments.

Journal

Qualitative Research JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 4, 2019

Keywords: Pakistan; Interviewing; Domestic violence; Family violence; Masculinity; Sensitive topic; Hostile environment; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

References