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Field Research in Political Science

Details

  • 19 b/w illus. 1 map 9 tables
  • Page extent: 480 pages
  • Size: 247 x 174 mm
  • Weight: 0.91 kg

Paperback

 (ISBN-13: 9780521184830)

Field research - leaving one's home institution in order to acquire data, information or insights that significantly inform one's research - remains indispensable, even in a digitally networked era. This book, the first of its kind in political science, reconsiders the design and execution of field research and explores its role in producing knowledge. First, it offers an empirical overview of fieldwork in the discipline based on a large-scale survey and extensive interviews. Good fieldwork takes diverse forms yet follows a set of common practices and principles. Second, the book demonstrates the analytic benefits of fieldwork, showing how it contributes to our understanding of politics. Finally, it provides intellectual and practical guidance, with chapters on preparing for field research, operating in the field and making analytic progress while collecting data, and on data collection techniques including archival research, interviewing, ethnography and participant observation, surveys, and field experiments.

• Based on extensive empirical research, including a nationwide survey of political scientists and more than 60 in-depth interviews • Provides extensive explanations of how to prepare for and conduct field research, including five common data collection techniques - archival research, interviews, ethnography and participant observation, surveys, and field experiments • Discusses and cites examples throughout to provide readers with a concrete sense of how others have applied techniques and resolved problems in the field

Contents

1. Field research in political science: practices and principles; 2. A historical and empirical overview of field research in the discipline; 3. Preparing for fieldwork; 4. Managing in the field: logistical, social, operational, and ethical challenges; 5. Thinking outside the (archive) box: discovering data in the field; 6. Interviews, oral histories, and focus groups; 7. Site-intensive methods: ethnography and participant observation; 8. Surveys in the context of field research; 9. Experiments in the field; 10. Analyzing, writing, and retooling in the field; 11. The future of field research in political science.

Review

'This outstanding book is a must-read for political science scholars, from faculty members contemplating a new project, to doctoral students exploring dissertation topics, to undergraduates embarking on their first research projects. A masterly analysis of how field research contributes to our understanding of politics, the book synthesizes a broad range of literature and also draws on the field experience of the authors. Despite the diversity of approaches to field research in the discipline, authors not only identify a common core of principles and practices but also suggest how they might be deepened and sharpened.' Elisabeth Jean Wood, Yale University, Connecticut

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