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In-depth Interviews and Virtual Forums: Mix of Methods for Decriminalization of Drug Consumption in Latin America

By: Victoria Sánchez Antelo Published: 2014 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases
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For my PhD thesis, I was interested in illegal drug consumers as political subjects within a social context, such as Argentina's, in which these practices are penalized. The background is a public debate brought about by high levels of illegal drug consumption and HIV/AIDS and increasing demands on the part of civil society for changes in legislation. I focused on learning about drug users' arguments on these proposals; drug users are key players who had not been clearly included in the local social studies. Methodologically, this case aims to promote reflection on the potential of in-depth interviews, initially the chosen tools but which when implemented proved to have certain limitations. Because of these limitations made, I chose to work with data from the Internet (the emergent element). The combined use of both data sources was a methodological challenge. In this case, I intend to exemplify that the use of in-depth interviews requires reflection on the context in which they are made and on the populations being interviewed. Qualitative methodology requires a flexible attitude on the part of the researcher who must be open to record possible emerging elements which can solve the weaknesses of the interviews. In this case, the data were collected from virtual forums.

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