Session 3

SMUSI_03- Fieldwork in the Global South – Shedding Light into the Black Box

Quantitative researchers are conducting a growing number of surveys in the Global South. Despite potentially higher response rates compared to Western countries, surveys in the Global South may still face severe difficulties (concerning sampling, issues of cultural equivalence or data interpretation). But due to technological advancement and a growing sensitivity with regard to issues of comparability, there is a lot of progress in the field, which may also deserve our attention in a fruitful discussion on (global) survey methodology. We equally welcome innovative contributions in those fields for the session, but we aim to particularly shed light on the so-called black box of fieldwork. Here, potential bias is still rarely reported and deserves particular attention. Various questions arise about how we should deal with certain challenges: (a) How do we assess political and social attitudes in authoritarian regimes to come to valid conclusions? (b) How do we deal with certain hospitality rules or gender norms in interview constellations? (c) How do we guarantee an appropriate interview situation (e.g. quiet places, privacy and the avoidance of bystanders during the interview)? (d) How do interviewer characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, or interviewer experience shape the answers of the respondents? (e) How do these interviewer characteristics interact with certain survey questions (e.g. factual and attitudinal questions, complex scales or open-ended questions)? (f) How should we monitor interviewees which may be susceptible to fabricate interviews? (g) How can we use technological advancement (such as electronic devices, audio-recording, GPS-tracking among others) to ensure a better quality-control of the fieldwork process? In short, we still know very little about ongoing processes on how the data is collected in the Global south. In the session, we particularly welcome contributions focusing on various aspects around fieldwork in large-scale surveys as well as innovative solutions to improve the survey quality in difficult environments. Additionally, we are also interested in small-scale pilot studies or simple pretest-studies or survey experiments to clarify potential interviewer effects, measurement errors, culture-specific response styles or answering patterns in certain interview constellations.