Researching “Intellectual Radicals” in the West

Abstract

The present case study is an account of the research method used in my previous article “Intellectual Radicals Challenging the State: The Case of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the West.” In the case study, I document the research process and, in particular, the process of choosing a research method by navigating the opportunities, obstacles, and challenges faced by the researcher studying a sensitive population, in this case members of an Islamist group. This case study explores all the relevant steps in developing a research project, starting with preliminary research and research design, exploring the method in action and the practicalities and lessons learnt during the research process. This case study concludes by identifying the following five core elements for developing and carrying out a good research project: choosing a pertinent research topic, choosing a suitable research method, planning the fieldwork, data analysis, and the researcher’s flexibility. These five core elements constituted the basis of my research on Hizb ut-Tahrir and why the group is committed to a continuous vocal challenge against Western states. They also helped me overcome a number of challenges (both in the field and during the research planning) by providing an effective equilibrium between flexibility and rigor.

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