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Stories from the Field: A Guide to Navigating Fieldwork in Political Science

Stathis Kalyvas and Desmond King recount first-hand experience designing research and explore questions of 'identity in the field', respectively, as part of a collection of over forty political science fieldwork stories, edited by Peter Krause and Ora Szekely.

 

Abstract

What do you do if you get stuck in an elevator in Mogadishu? How worried should you be about being followed after an interview with a ring of human traffickers in Lebanon? What happens to your research if you get placed on a government watchlist? And what if you find yourself feeling like you just aren’t cut out for fieldwork?

Stories from the Field is a relatable, thoughtful, and unorthodox guide to field research in political science. It features personal stories from working political scientists: some funny, some dramatic, all fascinating and informative. Political scientists from a diverse range of biographical and academic backgrounds describe research in North and South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, ranging from archival work to interviews with combatants. In sharing their stories, the book’s forty-four contributors provide accessible illustrations of key concepts, including specific research methods like conducting surveys and interviews, practical questions of health and safety, and general principles such as the importance of flexibility, creativity, and interpersonal connections. The contributors reflect not only on their own experiences but also on larger questions about research ethics, responsibility, and the effects of their personal and professional identities on their fieldwork. Stories from the Field is an essential resource for graduate and advanced undergraduate students learning about field research methods, as well as established scholars contemplating new journeys into the field.

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    Book cover for Stories from the field
Publishers Website
Professor Desmond King is Andrew Mellon Professor of American Government, Professorial Fellow Nuffield College, Director of Graduate Studies (Politics), Emeritus Fellow St John’s CollegeProfessor Stathis Kalyvas is Gladstone Professor of Government