A book review I wrote for International Affairs was published in their September issue. You can find the final version here (paywall) and a pre-print version here (open access).
|Researching non-state actors in international security: theory and practice; Andreas Kruck and Andrea Schneiker (eds.); Abingdon; Routledge; 2017; Hardcover, £84; ISBN: 978 1 138 94782 5; e-book available.
|Research, across the board, is becoming more formalised. Whether an ethnographic study, comparative case study or experiment, the list of prescriptions that comes with our methodological choices is growing. This is not necessarily a negative development: transparent descriptions of methodological choices give the reader handles to assess the intent and quality of a study. But method should not suffocate. Where our messy social reality meets a researcher’s practical limitations, trade-offs have to be made – especially in (post-)conflict settings where access may be dangerous, difficult or nearly impossible.
This edited volume balances that fine line between stylized method which allows scholars to make inferences and the messy social reality of security studies forcing trade-offs. Andreas Kruck and Andrea Schneiker brought together scholars from different backgrounds to reflect upon methods ‘in use’. Focusing, albeit not exclusively, on non-state actors in international security the chapters cover a range of approaches – from narrative and sentiment analysis, case study methods and interviewing, to field-experiments and immersion – with a particular eye on the implementation and (dis-)advantages of these methods. The book therewith offers an overview of what is methodologically possible but is also honest about what is difficult… (continue reading).