As posted in the news section recently, blog members Susan Hoppert-Flaemig, Verena Brähler, Juan Carlos Ruiz, and Alejandra Otamendi presented a panel at the ISA-PSS Joint Conference on “Security Challenges in an Evolving World” in Budapest on 27 June 2013.
One of our motives of establishing researchingsecurity.org was the wish to create a network to share our experiences, questions, doubts, and successes as young scholars in our field. Methodological and ethical issues are certainly an important part of our research and, from our point of view, require constant debates.
We therefore proposed and realised a panel on “Researching (In)Security and Violence: Diffusion in Methodology” at the Budapest Conference. Drawing on our own field research, we used the panel to discuss topics ranging from practical aspects such as gaining field access to deeper ethical concerns about cross-cultural research:
- Verena Brähler: Gaining and Maintaining Access when Researching on Security, Organised Crime, and Violence (based on field research in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil);
- Susan Hoppert-Flaemig: Cultural Limits of Ethical Standards: Written Consent as an Obstacle for Research in Non-European Cultures (elaborated on the discrepancy between ethical standards at British universities and practical challenges of field research in El Salvador);
- Juan Carlos Ruiz: Methodological challenges to study violence in Latin American excluded communities;
- Alejandra Otamendi: Use of Secondary Quantitative Data to Study Crime and Crime Perceptions in the Case of Public Punitiveness in Buenos Aires.
The presentations can be found here.
The presentations were followed by a lively debate about obstacles and risks in researching in a vulnerable and violent environment and about the usefulness of ethical standards; and we very much appreciated the input of our discussant Edmund Pries from Wilfried Laurier University (Canada).
Having attended a number of presentations of other panels at the conference, we got the impression that a lot of security research is still being undertaken by those disciplines that traditionally dominate security research, namely political science and international relations. Within these disciplines, many projects were working with quantitative data. Contributions from other disciplines such as anthropology and sociology as well as projects working with qualitative data were less represented.
Reflecting on the implications of this, we agreed that our network is open to a diverse range of methodologies and disciplines studying security. However, we also came to the conclusion that our particular strengths are expertise in grassroots and hands-on approaches, as well as heightened awareness for the implications of our research for the communities and societies we are working with.