Skip to main content

Reflections on a Doctoral Study of Human Trafficking: A Methodological Journey from Life Story Interviews to Analyzing Asylum Applications

By: Alison Jobe Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Sociology
+- LessMore information
Search form
No results
Not Found
Download Case PDF


Research doesn’t always go according to plan, especially when researching “difficult” or sensitive topics. This case study reflects on a doctoral study of Human Trafficking in the United Kingdom undertaken from 2003 to 2007. Initially, the research design centered on biographical research interviews with survivors of trafficking. However, practical, ethical, and ontological difficulties with this approach emerged when first embarking on the study. After a series of set-backs, an analysis of 23 asylum case files where women applied for asylum with accounts of trafficking into the sex industry became the focus of the research, alongside interviews with legal professionals and third sector practitioners. Also, after a lengthy negotiation with gatekeepers, interviews with women who had been identified as survivors of trafficking about their experiences of seeking asylum in the United Kingdom were undertaken. In retrospect, the challenges and changes to the methodological approach and research focus were not a shortcoming. On the contrary, studying the asylum cases led to a unique analysis, which considered how the U.K. Home Office, through decisions and judgments on asylum applications, understood, defined, and reacted to stories of trafficking, migration, sex work, and sexual violence at a time when Human Trafficking was (re)emerging as a publicly narrated social problem in the United Kingdom.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Methods Map

Life history interviews

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website