To Study the Significance of Social Interaction for Former Right Wing Extremists Wanting to Disengage: Doing Participant Observation and Qualitative Interviews

Abstract

This case study describes the process from the planning of a qualitative research to engaging in the fieldwork. I wish to illuminate how pre-understandings of the field as well as everyday practicalities play a significant role for the choice we make while in the field. I was interested in investigating the significance of social interaction for former participants in right wing extremist groups, who were in a disengagement process with the help from the organisation Exit in Stockholm, Sweden. As this field involved dealing with people in transition, it also meant dealing with people with very complex life stories and ambiguous identities and positions, which made it difficult to find an appropriate method to capture the many aspects involved in the process. As I will describe in the article, it is often necessary to change your methods numerous times as your research progresses.

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