Problems and Methods in the Study of Politics

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Such caution in dealing with outsiders is obviously a justifiable mechanism of self-protection.

A Mead Project source page

Some people may give answers designed to please, rather than reflecting a true state of affairs, also as a self-protective device. Some cultures promote more suspicion than others, and within cultures some individuals are likely to be more anxious than others, about giving away potentially incriminating information. Other reasons for reluctance to answer questions can be that people simply are not accustomed to being interviewed, or people may be reluctant to be interviewed because they already had been saturated with surveys and no effort had been made by previous researchers to convey the results or significance of the surveys back to the people.

Even where people are not suffering from survey fatigue they may be reluctant to be questioned because they view the interview as an imposition from outside forces. That is, the interview is something in which they had little choice of participation, and something from which they will receive few, if any, tangible benefits. In many cases their perceptions are entirely correct. Interviewing people in itself need not imply "local participation". Efforts should go in the planning and fact-finding stages towards identifying and incorporating the desires, needs, and aspirations of community members and social groups.

And, importantly, local individuals and groups must be involved in analyzing the collected information and in suggesting policy alternatives. Many instances exist where people may be reluctant to talk, especially where government regulations have curtailed free cutting and a black market in fuelwood exists. In Nepal, where fuelwood is in critically short supply, people are reluctant to answer questions on forest utilization Donovan, Given the frequent reference to illicit cutting or wood theft in areas as diverse as the Sudan, Kenya, India, the Philippines, Mexico and Guatemala, the interviewer should recognize the problem of dealing with sensitive matters.

The interviewer and investigator should ensure the confidentiality of the respondents. Memory recall of respondents depends upon the frequency, regularity, and significance of events. Twice weekly visits have been recommended, since daily visits may seem like pestering, and gaps of more than three or four days lead to increased recall errors. Seasonal differences should be accounted for. This method presents problems of representativeness, since any group chosen is unlikely to represent a true cross-section of the local population, though attempts should be made to include individuals of different socio-economic status.

The knowledge and experience of several individuals may serve as checks on information given by each others. There is nothing specialized about a group interview. In fact, any one who interviews, i. As many individual interviews are conducted in public places, and also because of differing conceptions of public and private space, other community members often stop, from curiosity, suspicion, desire to help, or officiousness, when they see a stranger talking to one of their groups Instead of resenting what westerners or western-educated people may see as an interruption, it is often advantageous to accept and use the situation.

This is especially so with fuel, where an individual alone is unlikely to divulge "secret" information that could not be publicly disclosed, so that the presence of many people should not be an obstacle to obtaining good information. But if the interviewer is a forestry official, his police duties may have alienated him from the villagers, who would then be cautious in answering questions. The response will in large part be determined by existing cultural and historical factors. For example, in parts of India, women who have been hidden behind a partition have been known to interrupt an interview and contradict the man being interviewed, thus constituting an unusual form of group interview.

A group of people can be highly informative, in modifying, supplementing or even contradicting individual statements. However, one thoughtful individual will often say "No we do not walk ten kilometers to collect wood, it is only as far as from here to x," ensuring a degree of reliability. Properly handled, group interviews can provide a useful check on reliability. There are limitations as some individuals will be reluctant to speak on certain topics, or they may wait for a senior or more powerful person to speak, then be unwilling to make any open contradiction, even when privately disagreeing.

This happens in all communities, and provides a careful observer with a chance to observe patterns of hierarchy and influence. There are no universal rules for proper handling of a group interview, except to say that it requires courtesy, and common sense, combined with two other qualities - a firm sense of what information is required, plus an appreciation of how flexibly the conversation can be guided. One does not wish autocratically to out off at once a speaker who wanders from the main topic, but who may be providing useful information, nor can one afford to let the conversation be dominated by the village bore, who may drive away more sensible villagers.

In this, as in other field situations, it is important not to raise false hopes, but to make clear what specific changes are possible or likely, and what cannot be done. One interviewer reported the result of a group interview of unemployed Nigerians in Lagos; the men turned on the interviewer with hostility and said in effect, "If you cannot offer us jobs, don't waste our time with stupid questions". Group interviews in urban situations however, offer many advantages, as they are easy to set up because of the population density.

The advantages of using a questionnaire are well-known: data can be collected quickly on specific items; these data can be easily transferred into forms allowing quantified and computerized analyses; and data collection tasks can be delegated to less expensive field staff. Questionnaires also compel the adoption of some "organized structure" upon data collection, but will be most effective when used by someone who can support and test the questionnaire findings with personal observations and insights and knowledge.

Using questionnaires is one means of recording data, but it is not the only means and it is not adequate to not cover all the information required. As we said earlier, no one method of information gathering is adequate for all purposes - all should be supplemented and checked. However, several problems can arise when using a questionnaire. This is especially true where a questionnaire is the primary means of collecting information. A questionnaire can impose a rigid, preconceived idea of reality which may be inappropriate for the particular situation.

If field enumerators are not supervised properly, errors in recording data can occur. Problems arise from respondents concealing, misreporting, or misunderstanding questions. Recall errors often happen, especially with regard to seasonal activities. The design and preparation of a questionnaire are extremely important, as they will influence the type of information collected, in somewhat the same way as the mesh-size of a fish-net determines the fish that are caught.

Careful thought, then, must be given to the selection and phrasing of particular questions. Sometimes it is good to start with a general question, "what do you think about X? First, one must have enough basic knowledge of the community to know which questions would be meaningful, and how, exactly, they should be framed so as to minimize the possibility of creating ambiguity, embarrassment or resentments The purpose of questions is to discover what people know, not what they do not know.

Thus, the second stage should be a brief pre-testing, which allows for refining and clarifying the questions so that they really do elicit, in precise form, the information required. Third is the administration of the questionnaire, which - as noted elsewhere requires constant supervision see below , for even at this stage ambiguities are likely to occur. One perceptive interviewer may point out that Question 14 could be interpreted in two ways, for example, and a quick resolution of the problem could be communicated quickly to other interviewers to ensure consistency and accuracy.

Fourth, there is the analysis of the results, to see what sort of picture emerges. And finally, there is a consideration of whether any supplementary questions are desirable. Throughout all stages, constant close supervision and cross-checking are necessary, combined with repeat interviews, supplementary observations, and, most important, regular discussion with interviewers. This both provides a check on the accuracy of the answers, and also encourages the interviewers to be conscientious.

Although the questionnaire ought to cover all questions needed, it should not be too elaborate nor too long; an hour is usually the maximum time period for any one questionnaire to be administered. Most rural people, especially women, have many demands on their time - collecting firewood and water, cooking, washing, cleaning, looking after children - and cannot spend too much time in answering questions. Whether to use a closed form with itemized answers or an open-ended form questionnaire depends on the researcher's own needs and requirements. If the closed form is used, a space for comments by the respondent and the interviewer should be included.

Some questions invite discursive answers, as in the open-ended questionnaire; while others ask for a straightforward factual answer - "how many times each day are cooked meals prepared? Depending on the nature of the survey, a simple rapid survey might be the best. Where computer facilities are available, it is advisable to frame and to code questionnaires so that computer analysis is possible. When a large number of sample households are involved, such as in a national or other macro-level survey, the use of computers is almost essential.

By computer, we refer not only to macro-computers but also micro-computers, and even some calculators that can be programmed for regression analysis may be appropriate.

But the use of computers is by no means indispensable in all surveys, particularly in more micro-level analyses, at least in the initial stages, Manual analysis often can be done quickly and cheaply so that a preliminary idea of results is obtained in a few days, instead of waiting at the mercy of the computer for months.

When computers are used, it is recommended and probably necessary that a member of the computer staff be part of the research team. In a perceptive article Chambers, ; see also Chambers et al. These shortcomings are important to note because they bias data collection and lead to an inaccurate analysis. Field research tends to be conducted during the dry season. In part this is because accessibility to many rural areas is easier during this season. Academic summer vacations also coincide with this period of relative prosperity, after the crops have been harvested, In contrast, the wet season, before the harvest, is generally a harsh time in rural areas.

Sickness and hunger prevail, particularly among the poorer households. The wet season is also the worst period for fuel collection, with wet wood, slippery paths, more illness, less time for collection and inadequate drying and storage facilities. Thus, research often has a seasonal bias, with conditions appearing more prosperous than they are over the balance of the year. Researchers tend to visit the field for short periods, and seldom stray from the roads.

In this respect, the Land Rover or Toyota Land Cruiser have been mixed blessings for development planning and research: while they do provide greater mobility, they offer the impression of "roughing it in the bush," when in fact what can be visited on rural roads is hardly representative of rural society. This is especially important if one is concerned, as are most development agencies, with seeing that benefits accrue to poor people, sometimes referred to as "'the lower 40 percent".

For these people often live in remote localities, inaccessible except on foot. Few poor old widows live on a roadside; the people most ill, children and elderly especially, are more likely to be suffering inside some decrepit house rather than walking or sitting outside in any visible way. To summarize, there are a number of biases typically found in field research that cause the worst rural poverty to go unperceived.


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  • INTRODUCTION.

Dry season, spatial, elite, male and project and adopter biases operate so as to hide the poorest sectors of the population, especially at the times they are the poorest. What emerges is an inaccurate portrayal of rural society and rural property. What can be done to overcome such biases? We have mentioned several promising approaches, and here we summarize: 1.

Go to the field well prepared, aware of what has been written, and of work being done by social scientists, especially local people. Cooperate with officials, but obtain unofficial views, too. Travel alone or in small groups, not as part of a large official party. Tell the people you meet about yourself, your aims.

Share information. Spend longer in the field, preferably overnight, when it is easier to talk, and when peripheral people may appear. Walk, Listen. Be silent when silence is appropriate. Concentrate on one topic fuelwood , but be aware of related topics. Never rely on questionnaires alone. Always supplement with direct observation and participant observation.

Find out when the stress periods - of seasonal hunger and shortages - occur. We have not attempted to provide a thorough examination of all methods, and their associated problems. Instead, we have been highly selective and, we hope, realistic, in recognizing that most readers will not be able to arrange elaborate prolonged investigations. So our emphasis is on what can be done quickly and on how to make the best use of limited resources.

Although the resources available, the study population and the informational needs will differ for each fuel survey, we recommend that a combination of methodologies be used. This is to ensure against the biases and limitations that are inherent in any manner of data collection, so that a reasonably accurate description can emerge. Selecting research sites and study participants 3.

See a Problem?

This section is concerned with how to select a population to study. We first deal with the concept of community - how it is defined, the question of representativeness, and procedures for selecting a research site. Next, we examine the basic unit of study in most fuelwood surveys - the household, while also mentioning other possible study units. This section ends with a discussion of sampling procedures and their applicability to fuelwood surveys. We have assumed that there will be some choice of which community to study, but we recognize that sometimes the researcher will be directed to do a study of a particular problem.

However, governments and development agencies are unlikely to pinpoint a particular community or village, they will rather choose a wider area, so there may still be some degree of choice. Instead, subsumed under these terms is a complex array of historical, spatial, social, economic, political and other relationships. When you travel by road, you see, of course, only those people whose homes can be reached by road or jeep track, and you do not see hidden pockets of poverty that are often scattered about at some distance from road or track. In looking at rural fuel situations, it is vital to include the peripheries, and not to concentrate only on members of the core elite who are likely to be the first people one meets.

The ideal way to obtain a comprehensive picture of rural energy use would be to spend at least a full year in a community. This would allow the investigator to notice important seasonal changes and how these affect patterns of labour allocation, social relations, and energy usage. A long residence is also likely to lead to good rapport with the community, and consequently to a better understanding of their ways and an ability to ask the "right" questions. Unfortunately, many surveys and their researchers will have little opportunity or resources to conduct such detailed investigations.

There are intermediate steps, though, in terms of research design and manner of field research. On large-scale projects, such as a national energy survey, case studies of selected communities, chosen according to appropriate environmental, economic, socio-cultural and other variables, could be used to supplement and to round out the data gathered by questionnaires and less intensive methods.

Specific consideration should be given in all projects to include data collection during the wet season, the pre-harvest period, and times of peak agricultural labor demand. For the field researcher, a recommended method is the "walk and listen" approach, which can be adopted even on one-day field visits. Leave the vehicle, arranging to meet it later, and walk a few hours away from the road, checking by observing, and questioning an interpreter may be needed on what one "knows".

For example, conventional wisdom may have it that people prefer certain species of trees for charcoal; that women go in groups to gather firewood; that certain trees are never out, because of a ritual prohibition that women do not climb trees; that men never carry firewood; that land-owners do not permit non-kinsmen to collect wood.

All such statements may be true, or true in certain circumstances, or subject to considerable reservations, or simply false. It is important to distinguish between past norms of behaviour and past values, and present practice. There may well be some confusion in the minds of local people about this.

There is no substitute for walking and listening to check on such universal generalisations, even, or particularly, when these are confidently made by community members. In all societies there is a difference between what people actually do, and what they say they do. People tend, if asked about social behavior, to present an idealized picture of what ought to happen. For example, in Ghana we were told that when a man died, his property was inherited by his father's younger brother's son: an investigation of actual cases of inheritance showed that only a minority followed the ideal pattern in practice.

The "walk and listen" approach is not without potential problems of bias. As mentioned in the key informant section, the rural elite tend to be the people who come forward, while the poor do not speak up. The researcher's own sense of politeness may inhibit him from probing into the lives of the poor. Unless one has some immediate benefit to offer, questioning the poorest people often appears to be an unwarranted and immoral intrusion. Another problem is that of male bias, since researchers tend to be males and their contact with women, especially poor rural women who constitute a "deprived class within a class" , is generally limited.

A final type of bias centers around projects and innovations. Researchers tend to go or to be taken into a place where "something is happening", where a project or innovation seems to be having a favourable or the desired impact. The short-visiting researcher may tend to meet only those individuals who are the users or adopters of innovations, such as new stoves. This 'project' and adopter bias leads researchers to neglect those areas, communities and people who have not benefitted but who might have been affected in an indirect or even direct fashion by the project.

For example, meeting with a landowner who had his cotton land converted to an eucalyptus plantation might reveal little about how this affected his labour force. The terms also refer to a certain pattern or style of living typified by personalistic relationships, social solidarity, and a local orientation. Impersonality, factionalism, and a shrewd understanding of how to manipulate outside social forces have been found to typify rural life. The delineation of the community or village as a unit of study depends on several local factors, including residential patterns, administrative divisions, land-use systems, and local people's perceptions.

Formal administrative boundaries by themselves can be misleading indicators of community boundaries. For example, "census villages" in India do not always correspond with residential clusters: "it is not uncommon for two adjoining houses to belong to two different revenue villages". To a large extent, the representativeness of a community depends on how comparable its internal composition is with other communities.

Five key characteristics of a community should be identified in order to serve as a basis for inter-community comparison: a. Population - including the total number of people and sex and age distributions. At a broad level this will indicate the aggregate local demand level for fuelwood and other fuel resources. Household access to trees and other fuel resources, as well as the condition of these resources, will be among the important variables considered here. Urban contact - the nearness to urban centres, linkages with roads, the amount of farm, fuel, and village output sold outside the community, and the amount of employment community members find outside.


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A crucial variable to be considered is the amount of wood and other fuel sources imported into or exported from the community. Resource distribution - how wealth and productive resources are distributed; thus, the extent to which the community is economically and socially stratified. Once again, household access to fuel resources whether direct access to trees or its ability to purchase fuelwood would be considered. Occupational structure - the relative importance of agriculture, seasonal wage labor, tenancy, nonfarm income and so on. Of particular importance for fuelwood surveys is the scale of fuelwood sales and degree of wage labor involved in fuelwood enterprises within the community.

These headings correspond in some degree to our "Topics on which to gather information", presented at the beginning of this chapter. But these are selective, and chosen to be relatively easy to identify and to aid an effective selection of villages. Identification of these variables allows the investigator to see how typical the community is in comparison to other communities. The question of typicality or representativeness is meaningful if a good national survey exists, to allow for comparison. The variables will also help in eliminating a village that clearly is unrepresentative - e.

In choosing a community to study, it might be desirable to consider the degree to which local people recognize that there is a fuel problem. Where there are clear perceptions of a crisis, that warrants serious attention, the response to the survey is likely to be good. When available, village-level census data if reliable, and up-to-date lots the investigator check beforehand how representative a community is in these variables. When reasons are given, most choices are "purposive. The last factor was essential in obtaining reliable information in a brief period of time Conway, Conway's quotation also demonstrates one of the advantages of having the investigator restudy a community.

Scarlett Epstein has given an account of how she was able to gather remarkable amounts of information in a five-week visit to two south Indian villages that she knew well from an earlier study Epstein Often, convenience and practical considerations are the most important factors behind the selection of a community. Communities may be chosen on account of their accessibility, or their congenial political and social climate. Reasons for deciding on one community over another may reflect the investigator rather than the community, as the former may prefer though seldom is this admitted a place that has "friendly" inhabitants, or good access to medical facilities, or absence of mosquitoes, or a pleasing view.

One of the villages was selected because of its "remoteness" and its "traditionalness" that is, Best considered the village to be not "strongly affected by modernization", although it, like the other two, was "purposely affected by the migrant labour system". This purposive selection process has often resulted in bias, since communities with good transportation, communications facilities, and other amenities are generally more developed.

According to Connell and Lipton : The relatively "developed" state of accessible villages is likely to give both those undertaking village surveys and those reading them an unduly optimistic view of rural conditions. Meanwhile, the worst poverty goes undetected or unobserved. Some researchers have recommended using area sampling to select a community. This involves randomly selecting a community from a large number of possible communities, each possessing an equal chance of being selected see the discussion of sampling in the next sections. Factors such as location, environmental setting, farming type, and population can be taken into account.

But area sampling presents several problems, and is not feasible unless a large sample in used, together with extensive knowledge of many villages. Maps, aerial photography, and rapid surveys of a number of villages can help overcome the lack of a sampling frame, combined with an interval sampling technique.

Sometimes accurate maps are unobtainable, and aerial photographs, if enlarged, can be effectively used as maps. Infra-red photography can be useful in high lighting the vegetation. In some parts of the world, good aerial photographic coverage exists, and is available; in others, either little aerial photography has been done, or it is not accessible, perhaps "for reasons of national security". Each variable must be regarded for its relevance to fuelwood, as indicated above.

The community, and adjoining communities, should be visited and looked at carefully before research begins. Factors such as local historical and ecological variables, and location which would limit the applicability of inferences made from the community to other areas, should be considered. Above all, the reasons for selecting a particular community should be explicitly stated. In some cases a household consists of a nuclear family - a man and woman with their children. There also may be "fragmented" households, such as an elderly or young or divorced person who lives alone. In general, a household may be considered as a grouping of people who share the same cooking facilities.

Even with such a broad definition of household, problems can arise. One common problem is that households are constantly changing in composition, and some members may be away for various time periods, from two days to two years or more. This is especially so when migrant labour is common. At the same time there may be several visiting guests and relatives who increase demand for fuel. In many parts of the Middle East, and also in other regions, belief in the influence of an Evil Eye makes people reluctant to disclose exact numbers of children to strangers.

In reckoning per-capita fuel consumption of a household, one obviously needs to know which members are physically present. Household size and composition influences how production is organized and what are relative consumption levels. In most households family labour is the most abundant resource, so that the number of household members available for doing work is crucial. Family size and the availability of energy resources are often correlated. This is important for fuelwood; as the available forest stock diminishes and as the time required for collecting fuel increases, so does the value increase of children as gatherers.

Information about household members' occupations helps in determining household size. This would appear particularly necessary where seasonal wage labour migrations are prevalent. Several indices, such as landholding size, sources and amount of income, house size and composition, ownership of consumer goods, and so on, can be used in assigning households a relative wealth position.

Local people are often able to identify and to rank, with a keen precision, relative household wealth positions See Castro et al. Other possible social groupings include ethnic groups, caste divisions, religious groups, charcoal producers, kinship groupings such as lineages and neighbourhood groups. Relevant economic units include various shops, restaurants, industries, businesses, and public institutions that consume fuelwood, Donovan and , for example, has studied small-scale industries in Nepal that consume fuelwood.

Digernes surveyed the shops, schools, and similar units which consume fuelwood in Bara, Sudan. Surveys may also consider the contractors, dealers, and other entrepreneurs who are involved in the production and marketing of fuelwood. It is necessary to choose a sub-set or sample of the population for investigation. Thus, the issue for researchers is to decide what kind of sampling procedures to use.

The manner of sample selection is critical because it defines how representative of the population the chosen group will be and therefore the extent to which findings from the study can be applied to the population as a whole. Sampling methods are generally divided into two major types: non-probability and probability sampling Kearl, A non-probability sample means that the individual units of study are selected either purposely on the basis of some judgemental criteria or accidentally on the basis of whomever is met or whatever is seen.

Thus, a non-probability sample is "unique", but not necessarily unrepresentative of the population. That is, in a non-probability sample every unit of a population does not have an equal chance of being selected. However, a sample can be purposively selected so that it contains the general characteristics of a population this will be discussed below in greater detail. A probability sample is based on the principle that every unit of a population has an equal chance of being selected for study. This ensures, theoretically, that the chosen units of study are representative of the population.

Probability sampling involves a random or systematic manner of selection, for example selection based on a table of random numbers, or based on every nth unit, such as every tenth household. Selecting the appropriate sampling procedure depends upon the particular situation, and in all situations each manner of selection will have its own advantages and inherent limitations. Although we will describe each sampling method as an exclusive type, in practice they are often combined.

Thus, a village may be selected purposively, on the basis of environmental, economic and other variables, while the sample selected in the village may be done randomly. Non-probability sampling allows for considerable flexibility in selection, an important consideration when the study universe is undefined or unclear, or when there is a problem obtaining consent from those selected.

But non-probability sampling has several drawbacks. Any group may be easily under or over representated in the sample. There is a tendency to select those individuals who are more articulate or approchable, which generally means the wealthier or more educated community members. The actual basis of selection may appear in retrospect as having been largely ad hoc even when specific criteria were considered.

Probability sampling is generally seen as more "scientific" because it supposedly will yield a sample that is precisely representative of the population. In practice, though, there are limits to the use of probability sampling. A random or systematic sample needs to be drawn from a defined universe, but frequently little census information is known about the population and its geographical distribution is undermined.

Thus, a sampling frame has to be created. Sometimes maps and aerial photographs, perhaps combined with an overflight of the area, can help to construct a sampling frame. An area sample could be chosen, then one particular area randomly selected on the basis of agro-environmental and socio-economic variables. Households in the selected area can then be listed and a random or systematic sample chosen. Not all researchers have had to start from scratch. Digernes used the local rates lists which show the assessments for public services in Bara, Sudan, to construct a stratified random sample.

Fortunately, rates are based on such important socio-economic variables as house size, location, number of rooms, building materials, number of-latrines, number of household members, and their socio-economic position. Digernes, who carried out her study in and , found that the latest list was from , and it seemed "complete and fully representative". She stratified the households into three groups according to the levels of rates paid, selecting a 10 percent random sample from each group. Twenty-five of the sampled households had moved or been dissolved and were excluded from the survey.

No new households were added. A list of the twenty-five public institutions and private businesses using charcoal was obtained from the local government, and these were included in a fuelwood consumption survey Digernes, Another problem with probability sampling is that a high percentage of those selected must consent to being studied. In most cases some households will not consent and others will have to be chosen. Conversely, households that were not selected will want to be studied. When possible in such cases the data ought to be collected, although it should not be included with the sample.

All communities, even the poorest, have gradations of poverty and wealth. Stratifying the sample is usually essential. This means dividing the population into different strata or groups, based on income or other relevant variables. In probability sampling, study units can be selected randomly or systematically from each strata. With non-probability sampling, a quota might be allocated to each stratum, and case studies might be selected from each for intensive study.

Once again, there is often a paucity of data on income, land ownership and other critical variables necessary to stratify a sample. Proxy indicators of income, such as housing type, condition and construction materials, and possession of consumer goods, can be used to rank households.

Case Study Method

Perceptions of local people can also be used in constructing a stratified sample. Hill asked several "key informants" to rank village households according to their ability to cope with seasonal food shortages. A random sample was taken of the resulting strata and several measures, including land and capital equipment ownership, were used to test the perception. Hill found that the local people were extremely accurate in their ranking, in that their subjective assessment correlated closely with other objective measures Hill, Sample size is related to costs that can be afforded by the researchers.

The most critical consideration, though, is that the sample be large enough to be adequately representative of the study population. Too small a sample can undermine the validity of months of research. In populations that are socio-economically homogenous, a small sample is sufficient because describing one unit describes them all. But such populations are increasingly rare, indeed it is doubtful if they were ever as prevalent ass once believed. Some analysts recommend that surveys include at least 10 percent of the households with the proportion increasing with bigger, more heterogeneous communities Connell and Lipton, A final consideration is that sample size affects techniques and questions.

For example, a recent survey in Nigeria covered 11, households, so detailed techniques were out of the question. Where a sample is very small, such as fewer than 10, they more resemble case studies than a sample survey. Field workers and study logistics 4. Especially among the rural agricultural peoples with whom we are primarily concerned, there will be little difficulty in finding suitable assistants, or "associates", to use a more exact term.

We consider some aspects of selection, training, supervision and logistics. We have found that many have the appropriate level of education: what is needed are adequate skills in reading, writing, record-keeping, and interpretation of questions, together with qualities of reliability, honesty and ability to ask questions in a polite, respectful yet firm manner. Those who have only primary education are unlikely to manage the written records, nor will they be able to write their own observations.

On the other hand, people who have an advanced education are often unsatisfactory because they regard the job as dull, routine and unglamorous; or they complain constantly about the rigours of long walks along hot dusty paths, or about the mosquitoes or fleas, or whatever is locally an irritant. This is not an anti-intellectual argument, for university students, both undergraduates and post-graduates, can play very important parts in village surveys; it is simply that they regard themselves as over-qualified for the rather routine and relatively low paying task of gathering basic information.

Government departments are a good source for survey associates, especially such departments as forestry and agriculture. But where forestry officials have law-enforcement duties, they may have such negative images in the community that people distrust them. In selecting associates, certain qualities are desirable - some degree of literacy and sensitivity to people being interviewed, for example. Age, religion, gender, ethnicity, and experience may all be relevant. Above all, people selected should have a real interest in the survey and an understanding of its aims. It may be possible to ask ten potential associates to do some simple interviews and observations for a day, and to report verbally and in writing.

One or two will emerge as "natural researchers" in that they are interested, competent, sensitive and conscientious; in short, they have the necessary "sociological imaginations". High school students are not the only people to be considered, Given the poverty in most communities, and the lack of non-farm opportunities, there are likely to be many applicants.

Sometimes there will be so many that the choice of individuals becomes difficulty especially when, as often happens, locally important people put forward their kinsfolk or dependents. Among Democrats, there is widespread agreement across generations. Though they differ in their views over the changing racial and ethnic makeup of the country, across generations most Americans agree about the impact that legal immigrants have on society. On balance, all generations see legal immigration as more positive than negative. Across most generations, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say legal immigrants are having a positive impact.

However, within Gen Z there is no partisan gap on this issue. When it comes to views about how careful people should be in using potentially offensive language, members of Gen Z are divided over whether people need to be more careful or if concerns about political correctness have gone too far. Interestingly, members of the Silent Generation are closer to members of Gen Z in their views on this topic than they are to Boomers, Gen Xers or Millennials. Since they first entered adulthood, Millennials have been at the leading edge of changing views on same-sex marriage.

In other ways, too, Gen Zers and Millennials are similar in their openness to changes that are affecting the institutions of marriage and family. About one-in-five Gen Zers and Millennials say cohabitation is a good thing for society — higher than the shares for older generations. In their views about gender roles within couples, members of Generation Z are virtually identical to Millennials and Gen Xers and quite similar to Baby Boomers.

4. Methods of fact finding

Large majorities in all four groups say that, in households with a mother and a father, the responsibility for providing for the family financially should be shared equally. About one-in-five Gen Zers, Millennials and Gen Xers — and a quarter of Boomers — say this responsibility should fall primarily on the fathers. Very few say mothers should be mostly responsible for this. For the most part, there are no notable gender gaps in views on this issue; the Silent Generation is the exception.

Among Gen Zers, Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers, male and female respondents are largely in agreement that mothers and fathers should share family financial responsibility. Very few say raising children should fall mostly to dads. Male and female respondents across generations have similar views on this issue.

A majority of Americans, regardless of generation, view the increasing number of women running for public office as a positive change for our society. The pattern is similar for Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers. There are stark generational differences in views on these issues. These views vary widely along partisan lines, with generational differences evident within each party coalition, but sharpest among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Again, there are large partisan gaps on this question, and Gen Z Republicans stand apart to some extent from other generations of Republicans in their views. Democrats vary little by generation in shares holding this view. There is less awareness of this among older generations. This generational pattern is evident among both Democrats and Republicans.

In addition to their greater familiarity with gender-neutral pronouns, Gen Zers and Millennials express somewhat higher levels of comfort with using gender-neutral pronouns, though generational differences on this question are more modest. There are wide party gaps on this measure across generations. Within each generation, Democrats come down on the side of feeling comfortable, rather than uncomfortable, using a gender-neutral pronoun to refer to someone if asked to do so.

In contrast, for each generation of Republicans, majorities say they would feel uncomfortable doing this. Across generations, knowing someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns is linked to comfort levels in using these pronouns. Three-quarters of Millennials and about two-thirds of Gen Zers, Gen Xers and Boomers who personally know someone who goes by gender-neutral pronouns say they would feel very or somewhat comfortable referring to someone with a gender-neutral pronoun. About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.

It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Publications Topics Interactives Datasets Experts. The survey methodology used in the current study does not include respondents younger than Related Publications Sep 10, Publications Feb 20, Interactives Feb 14, Publications Nov 15, Interactives Mar 16,