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Theorizing Risk and Research: Methodological Constraints and Their Consequences

Swenson, G. ORCID: 0000-0001-6477-4257 and Roll, K. (2020). Theorizing Risk and Research: Methodological Constraints and Their Consequences. PS: Political Science and Politics, 53(2), pp. 286-291. doi: 10.1017/S104909651900177X


Conflict, postconflict settings, and other risky research sites are important with wide-ranging policy implications. Microlevel, field-based research lends critical insights to how conflicts work and the mechanisms behind macrolevel correlations that underpin quantitative political science. This article identifies how the risks associated with conflict and postconflict contexts influence researchers’ choices by theorizing the existence of distinct adaptive strategies. Specifically, researchers facing elevated risk generally manage it through three main strategies: outsourcing risk, avoiding risk, and internalizing risk. We argue that these strategies systematically shape and circumscribe outputs. We conclude by discussing how the relationship between risky fieldwork and what we know about conflict is poorly acknowledged. Thinking about how we manage risk should play a larger role in both our preparation for and interpretation of research, particularly in conflict and postconflict contexts.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is published in a revised form in PS: Political Science and Politics This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © American Political Science Association.
Subjects: J Political Science
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > International Politics
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2019 09:59
Text - Accepted Version
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