University of Cambridge > > Fieldwork Seminar: Methodologies in the 'field' > International Snowballing and the Multi-Sited Research of Diplomats

International Snowballing and the Multi-Sited Research of Diplomats

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This seminar addresses the methodological challenges involved in the qualitative research of diplomats. The question of how and where to access a highly mobile “cosmopolitan elite” is discussed with reference to the role of space, trust, and scholarly flexibility. It is suggested that relationships of trust constitute axes around which the research of “difficult to access” professionals may flexibly evolve. This perspective shifts focus onto the method of snowball sampling, which allows the researcher to tap into and benefit from diplomats’ personal networks of trust. Where relationships transcend clearly demarcated places, geographical proximity is unlikely to impact interviewees’ referrals, rendering fieldwork a highly mobile and multi-sited undertaking. This raises questions about the quality of collected data. Situated within the broader debate of “breadth-versus-depth”, the various (dis-)advantages resulting from the “quick visit” of multiple and globally dispersed field sites are therefore discussed.

This talk is part of the Fieldwork Seminar: Methodologies in the 'field' series.

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