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  • 00:00


  • 00:11

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY: Hi.My name is Michael L. Dougherty.I'm an assistant professor of sociology at Illinois StateUniversity.My areas of specialization includethe sociology of development, and environmental sociology.And more specifically, I'm interested in whatyou might call the industrial ecology of global mining

  • 00:32

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: industries, and the environmental conflictsthat mining engenders in the rural developing world.In this particular video, which is entitled Doing Mixed MethodsField Work in Rural Guatemala, I'mgoing to give you a bit of a case study about my experiencedoing field work in the rural developing world--

  • 00:52

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: and in particular, collecting both ethnographic and surveydata as well as archival data, someof the benefits of doing this, some of the challengesthat I experienced, and how I went about overcoming them.So there are a lot of complexities,

  • 01:14

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: and there are a lot of challenges,that one encounters-- both collecting mixed methods data,and then on top of that, collecting mixed methods datain the rural developing world.I spent a year doing field work in rural Guatemala,and also in El Salvador, around issuesof environmental conflicts specific to mining.

  • 01:36

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: To give you a little bit of a background,mining investment in the developing world,and in Latin America in particular,has increased dramatically over the last 15 years--something on the order of 300%.And as you might imagine, that creates a lot of conflictin the communities, and around the communities, that

  • 01:58

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: are being asked to host these large-scale, industrial, metalmining projects.So my interest, my substantive research interest,is in the social dynamics of these conflicts.Although we won't really talk about the substantive interestin this video.Rather, we'll talk about the data collection process.

  • 02:20

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: So I spent a year in rural Guatemaladoing this particular kind of field work.And let me add, at this point, that this was notmy first foray into rural Guatemala.I had lived-- before I became a researcher,I had lived and worked in rural Guatemala for many years.And so I had that as an advantage to me.

  • 02:41

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: I was interested, when I began this research,in the drivers of conflict.Specifically, I was interested in why some locals supportedthe mining companies, and other locals opposed them,and what the factors and the variableswere that explain these contrasts.I was also interested in the macro story of the mining

  • 03:02

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: boom in Guatemala, and what forces on the global level helpaccount for this.I went into the field with very loosely-framed questions.I did not have rigid research questions.I did not have a rigid hypothesis.I went into the field with the expectationthat my orientations, and my thinking, on the issues

  • 03:25

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: would change as I conducted preliminary field work.I also went into the field with the ideathat I was going to do an ethnography.So it came as a bit of a surpriseto me, when I decided-- already in the field--

  • 03:46

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: that instead I was going to do a mixed methods project.So I went into the field thinking,I'm going to do semi-structured interviews,and that's going to be my principal data collectionapproach.And my secondary data collection approachis going to be participation.I was going to do a straightforward ethnography.But once I was in-country and talking to people,

  • 04:09

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: I discovered two very important things.One was that I wanted to complementmy qualitative data, my ethnographic data,with archival data.And there were a variety of interesting specialty librariesand archives in Guatemala City-- and alsoin San Salvador, El Salvador-- that were available to me.

  • 04:31

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: The second thing that I discoveredwas that I wanted to do a survey in additionto the ethnographic data collection.And so I ended up designing and administering a survey.So I didn't know I was going to do a mixed methods projectuntil I got into the field.And that, in and of itself, posed some challenges for me.

  • 04:53

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: So once I got into the field, I realizedthat there was going to be some value in spending time in someof the different libraries-- specialty librariesand archives in the capitals of both Guatemala and El Salvador.I also discovered that following the news,in particular the newspapers, was a really good way

  • 05:13

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: of keeping abreast of what was going onin terms of public discourse around these issues.So let me tell you one story, at this point,to illustrate the added value that I receivedfrom integrating archival researchwith my ethnographic research.

  • 05:36

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: I was in the congressional archivesin San Salvador, El Salvador.It's actually the archives of the legislative assembly--they don't call it Congress there, for some reason.So I was in the archives of the legislative assembly,and I found the files of the actual legislation that became

  • 05:56

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: the Salvadoran mining law.And in the margins of those files,the different congresspeople had written thingsand marked things out.And it was this rich kind of archaeologicalfind that documented the ongoing conflict,within the Salvadoran legislative assembly,

  • 06:18

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: around the details of the mining law.And in particular, when I got to the part on royalty rates,there was a lot of stuff scratched out,and a lot of stuff written in the margins.And they had commented, well, I know from a reliable sourcethat Guatemala is going to reduce its royalty rate to 1%,and I know from a reliable source

  • 06:39

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: that in Honduras they're going to do away with royaltieson the national level altogether--therefore, for El Salvador to remain competitive,we have to reduce our royalty rate to something commensurate.And all of this was written in hand,in the margins of this document that was dusty and buriedon a shelf in the archives of the legislative assembly.

  • 06:59

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: And so what this told me was therewas an explicit effort on the part of these countriesto compete with one another at the turn of the century,at the turn of the 2000s, in order to capture investmentin mineral activity.And this became an important part of the story

  • 07:23

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: that I told in my publications about the origins of the miningboom in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.So this is just a little anecdoteto illustrate the added value of incorporatingarchival research with your ethnographic research.I also discovered, as I've mentioned already,

  • 07:44

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: while I was in the field, that I wanted to developand administer a survey.I hadn't anticipated doing that.And so the fact that I decided that I wantedto do that while I was in the fieldcreated a particular logistical challengethat I want to mention.I had to modify my institutional review board protocol.

  • 08:05

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: So remember, it's important to keep an open mind in the field.It's important to be analyzing your dataas you're going, and adapting to whatyou're learning in the field.But if you decide to change your methodology mid-course-- which,by the way, is not at all a bad thing--recall that you have to modify your institutional review board

  • 08:25

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: protocol with your host institution.I also discovered that there were particular challenges,some of which I think are more intuitive than others,and many of which you would probably anticipate.

  • 08:46

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: There are particular challenges to doing this kind of researchin the rural developing world.First of all, I am evidently not Guatemalan.And I was in rural Guatemala, askingsome very sensitive and controversial questionsabout people's attitudes vis a vis mining.

  • 09:06

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: And the mining companies that wereso controversial in rural Guatemala at that timewere all North American companies.So there was a natural suspicion of me,as a white person and an outsider,asking these questions.That posed a particular challenge.The first way that I went about overcoming

  • 09:26

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: that was, once I would go into a municipality,the first thing I would do would beto approach the mayor and the towncouncil of that municipality, and explain to them my projectand solicit from them permission and support for this research.And in some cases they were happy to give it.

  • 09:48

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: In other cases, they did not give it,and that was completely fine.It had to be fine.So I went, for example, to one municipalitythat I thought was going to be a really great place to work.And the town council and the mayorsaid to me, look, we get what you're trying to do.But for us, supporting you in this political climate

  • 10:10

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: is politically untenable.And also, it's probably dangerousfor your personal security.And so we would recommend you not work here.And obviously I had to abide by that, and I moved on.But many municipalities were happy to have me.And once I had the support of the mayor and the town council,we would, together, look at the map

  • 10:31

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: and decide what rural communitieswithin the municipality I would work in.And once that was decided, I would go directlyto the schools in those communities-- whichat first blush might sound like a peculiar move.But I knew, from previous experience living and workingin rural Guatemala, that schoolteachers

  • 10:53

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: are community gatekeepers.They're often some of the most highly educated peoplein these communities.And they also have the trust and the rapport with the communitymembers, because, after all, theseare the people that are teaching the children.So I would go directly to the schoolteachersin these rural communities.

  • 11:14

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: And almost every rural community,regardless of how small, has a school,even if it's just a one-room schoolhouse.And I would talk to these teachers.I would explain to them my project.And in most cases, they would say, yes,it's fine that you work here.I understand what you're trying to do, and I'll support you.And I'll help you get rapport and trust with the community

  • 11:36

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: people.So we would, at that point, convoke a community assembly.And we'd get sometimes 30, 40, even 100 people at oneof these meetings.And I would always make sure to havefood at each of these meetings.And I would explain what I was doing,and I would ask the community for their support.And in some cases, they would say, yes, of course.

  • 11:58

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: In other cases, they would politely say, meh, thanks,but no thanks.And then in some cases they would say, actually,you need to leave right now.And of course that was fine, and I would abide by that.So in the communities where I ended up working,I would have groups of schoolteachers--

  • 12:18

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: the schoolteachers from the community,and sometimes I would bring in schoolteachersfrom other communities.I would contract these people, and Iwould pay these people-- they werecompensated relatively well.And I would train them.We had a 24-hour training on how to administer a survey.The other complication that arises

  • 12:39

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: doing survey research in the rural developing worldis that there are very few email accounts,there are almost no landlines, there are almost nopostal addresses, and most of the people livingin these communities are subsistence farmersthat are not fully literate.

  • 13:00

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: So all of these things together pose tremendous challengesfor survey administration in the rural developing world.The way that I got around this was to literallyadminister verbally the survey, to each and every person that Isurveyed.So I would convoke-- I would, first of all, organize

  • 13:21

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: this team of survey administrators.I would train them.And then we would convoke another community assemblymeeting, at which time we would go personby person around the entire room,and administer the survey orally to everybody.And I did this with 600 people in five municipalities

  • 13:44

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: in Guatemala and El Salvador.And it was expensive, and it was time-consuming,but it is the most effective way to get quantitative dataon the ground in the rural developing world.And the added bonus is you've got a 100% responserate, because every single individual you're

  • 14:05

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: talking to personally and getting their permissionto be surveyed.So there are a number of advantages to it,even though it can be quite expensive and time-consuming.I want to move now to briefly discuss

  • 14:25

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: some of the main findings from this research.And this was a large project, and so thereare a wide variety of findings.But I want to just hit three of the highlights.The first main finding that I think is importantis that land tenure patterns-- the organizationof the ownership of land in a place--

  • 14:45

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: has a lot to do with how that community makessense out of mining, and how that community reactsto the arrival of the mining company in their territory.The second one is something about the identity politicsof mining conflicts.Mining companies and their allies,

  • 15:07

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: and also anti-mining activist networks and their allies,tend to deploy very simplistic portrayalsof agrarian indigenous communitiesand their residents in the discursivestruggles around mining.And these portrayals of local residents

  • 15:28

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: become a kind of currency in this strugglebetween mining supporters and mining opponents.And the voices, the myriad complex voices,of the community members themselvestend to become obscured, and get lost,in this simplistic discursive struggle.

  • 15:49

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: The third major finding that I want to talk about briefly,is a more macro issue.And this has to do with transformationsin the global mining industries over recent decades.Specifically, I'm referring to the growth in numbersof junior mining companies.What I've found is that the growth

  • 16:09

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: in numbers of junior mining companieshas a lot to do-- for a variety of reasonsthat I won't go into-- with the increasein environmental conflicts in these territoriesover the last several years.I want to close by offering some reflective questions for people

  • 16:33

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: to think about as you chew on the materialthat I've provided.First of all, what other challenges might oneconfront while doing field work in the rural developingworld, in addition to the challenges that I've alreadyshared?I could imagine that linguistic or cultural barriersto developing rapport could be a pretty substantial challenge.

  • 16:57

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: In my case, I think I experienced that, but maybeto a lesser extent than some peoplebecause I had lived many years in these placesbefore I became a researcher there.And so I had a high level of cultural competencyand a high level of linguistic competency.But linguistic and cultural barriers to rapport

  • 17:18

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: can be a very serious challenge for peoplefrom the global north trying to do researchin the rural developing world.Secondly, we need to think very seriouslyabout our role in exploiting research participants,in taking advantage of research participants,in extracting data from research participants

  • 17:42

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: without giving anything back.In my case, I was very cognizant, very aware,of the fact that these peasant farmers lived very spare lives,and that it was a hardship for themto share an entire afternoon with me, being surveyed, whenthey could be in the fields, working.And so I would make sure to have nice food available

  • 18:07

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: at the community assembly meetings,both to entertain folks and also, in a small way,to sort of compensate them for participation in my program.And of course I would pay directlythe survey administrators that I found and hiredon the local level.So there are ways that we can find to give back,ways that we can find to reciprocate,

  • 18:28

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: and ways that we can find to mitigate--a little bit, although never entirely--the power differential that exists when we are studying"down."That is to say, when we, as wealthy peoplefrom the global north, are doing field work in the developingworld.And then finally, how might your experience be different

  • 18:48

    MICHAEL L. DOUGHERTY [continued]: if you went into the field with a very rigid researchquestion and a very rigid hypothesis, for example.Would there be advantages-- would there be disadvantages--to such an approach?[MUSIC PLAYING]


Professor Michael L. Dougherty discusses his experience researching the impact of the Latin American mining boom on rural communities. He explains how his planned approach changed once he arrived in Guatemala, and he highlights the challenges and difficulties of such research.

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Doing Mixed Methods Fieldwork in Rural Guatemala

Professor Michael L. Dougherty discusses his experience researching the impact of the Latin American mining boom on rural communities. He explains how his planned approach changed once he arrived in Guatemala, and he highlights the challenges and difficulties of such research.

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