EASA 2010: Crisis and imagination. Maynooth, Ireland.

Workshop W044 "What are you really doing here? Suspicion and the politics of ethnography"

Author: Sergey Serov


Respondents' mistrust as an additional source of information at studying social and cultural adaptation of the African migrants in Moscow

In our study of the African migrants in Moscow interviewing and questionnaire interrogation were selected as the basic methods of getting field evidence. However, almost all the respondents expressed mistrust to our study and contacted reluctantly. Even more so, they could consciously corrupt facts in their answers. A strategy for overcoming mistrust was elaborated in the course of research: a choice of place for interviewing, way of formulating questions, manner of behavior, etc.

A great number of different factors influence the African migrants' social and cultural adaptation, as well as their way of behavior, including expressing mistrust to a researcher. Other language, social and political order, culture, climate - all this definitely raises a barrier between the migrants and receiving society in which they constitute a very small but physically very well visible minority.

An analysis of the reasons for the respondents' mistrust allows to get additional information about their current life situation, position in the Moscow socio-cultural milieu, psychological state, and level of cultural and social adaptation in general. The nature and scope of this information is discussed in detail in the paper.