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Conducting an Exploratory Survey of a Little Researched Marginalized Transnational Migrant Community

By: Celia Jenkins, Umit Cetin, Yücel Demirer & Derya Keskin Demirer Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Sociology
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This case concerns an exploratory survey conducted in both Turkey and the United Kingdom to find out more about the little researched contemporary lives of the relatively marginalized transnational Alevi community. By conducting the survey in both countries, the aim was to describe the lives of Alevis in each, as well as to compare those who migrate with those who stay in Turkey. The main themes of the survey were demographic characteristics, family life, migration, identity, social activities, and transnational connections. The case focuses on the challenges experienced in designing one survey to describe a transnational community which could be used in both Turkey and the United Kingdom. These include issues of questionnaire design, the best method of administering the survey, and how to access participants, particularly when they are suspicious of your motives, as well as the ethical, political, technical, and practical issues to be faced at all stages of the research process and required of a successful survey. The case describes the issues arising at different stages of the research and the technical difficulties resulting from using Turkish and English language versions of the survey. It also reflects on the expectation gap between what the community imagined a survey on Alevis would cover and its actual content. Through presenting this research and the challenges we faced, we hope students will better understand the complexities of doing surveys and can avoid some of the pitfalls associated with research on transnational migrant communities.

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