For experienced and inexperienced researchers and practitioners alike, this engaging book opens up new perspectives on conducting fieldwork in the Global South. Following an inter–disciplinary and inter-generational approach, Understanding Global Development brings into dialogue reflections on fieldwork experiences by leading scholars along with accounts from early career researchers. Contributions are organised around six key issues:  • Meaningful participation in fieldwork  • Working in dangerous environments  • Gendered experiences of fieldwork  • Researching elites  • Conducting fieldwork with marginalised people  • Fieldwork in development practice. The experience–led discussion of each of the topics conveys a sense of what it actually feels like to be out in the field and provides readers with useful insights and practical advice. A relational framework highlights issues relating to power, identity and ethics in development fieldwork, and encourages reflection on how researcher engagement with the field shapes our understanding of global development.

The Ups and Downs of ‘Studying Up’: Researching Elites in China

John Osburg


The above interview with Professor Grugel provides a nuanced overview of the challenges and dilemmas associated with conducting research on and with elites. I would like to expand upon a few themes explored in this interview based on my own field research experiences with wealthy businessmen, civil servants and gangsters in a large Chinese city in the early 2000s. Like Professor Grugel, I often felt conflicted in my interactions with my informants, many of whom were charming and kind but espoused opinions and engaged in behaviour I found morally problematic at best. Professor Grugel describes interviewing a founding member of the fascist party in Chile and being unnerved by the fact that ...

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