Collecting Data on Corruption and Political Intrigues in Mexico
The paper examines some strategies and methods for collecting and validating interview and field research data on corruption and political intrigues, with reference to specific research I have conducted in Mexico City and in the State of Morelos, Mexico. The subjects of the interviews are representatives of the industrial, agricultural and government sectors of the sugar agro-industry in both Mexico City and Morelos, and in Morelos I have also conducted field research in a cane growers community where I have resided with my family and regularly revisited since 1975 up to the present. The problem with investigating issues of corruption and political intrigues are well known: Why should subjects reveal delicate information on political intrigues, manipulation, semi- or illegality, particularly if they have a direct stake in them? This paper focuses on some ways in which these obstacles can be sufficiently reduced or even overcame to arrive at and validate such information obtained in interviews and in field research. As informants’ trust in the investigator is the premise of any investigator’s trust in the validity of the informants’ presentation, the central argument of this paper is that particularly in matters of political delicacy the trust that can be established through field research is a necessary (though not a sufficient) condition for obtaining more valid information on that subject. The paper then outlines some methodological dimensions of the relations between trust and validation by focusing on unconventional methods of dealing with the advantages of outsiders, composing puzzle pieces, triangulating information, finding the kernel of validity in distorted information, the significance of established inter-personal trust for validation, and the ethics of establishing trust with opposing groups.
Keywords: Field Research, Interviews, Corruption, Political Intrigues
Prof. Peter Singelmann
Department of Sociology/CJC, University of Missouri
1961 Abitur, Rudolf Steiner Schule, Hamburg
1961-1965 Universität Hamburg, University of Southampton
1965-1972 University of Texas-Austin. Ph.D. Sociology, 1972
1971-present Assistant Professor - Professor, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City
Visiting Professorships in Mexico City and Berlin, different periods: Universidad Anahuac, Instsituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, Univesidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales), Freie Universität Berlin (Institut für Sozialwissenschaften). PUBLICATIONS ON:
Social Theory (classical and contemporary); Social Banditry; Peasant Movements in Latin America; Mexico: Politics, democratization the PRI, sugar industry, sugar cane growers, growers unions. PUBLICATIONS IN: American Sociological Review; British Journal of Sociology; Comparative Studies in Society and History; Latin American Perspectives; numerous articles in edited books; one book.