Qualitative Field Methods to Understand Informal Arrangements

Governance often involves organizations whose authority derives from sources outside the state, such as informal associations, customary or traditional groups, but also those organizations whose authority is explicitly outlawed by the state, such as mafias, transnational criminal organizations, or prison gangs. A fundamental challenge for social science research is understanding how these organizations operate in challenging contexts where security is questionable because of conflict or the illegal or illicit nature of the enterprise. This project focuses on methods to help young scholars measure and collect data on these organizations. Its purpose is practical: providing researchers with ethical and practical training to conduct research in this domain. The project will also serve as an international hub and training programs for both students and scholars in this domain of conducting research on governing organizations that often remain in the shadows.