Enumerator Experiences in Violent Research Environments, with Martha Wilfahrt (under review) Working Paper [Appendix]
Understanding the political and social effects of violence in local populations through public opinion surveys has become increasingly common across the globe. Yet while researchers are attuned to possible challenges induced during survey implementation, this work has focused almost uniformly on the respondent. This paper considers the experiences of survey enumerators as critical actors for data collection in violent research settings. We present the results from a survey of 245 enumerators in Cote d’Ivoire to show that their exposure to personal violence conditions the challenges they face and the compromises they make to collect data. Contrary to expectation, we find that individual enumerator experience with violence while collecting data is more consequential for the process than being an outsider in the communities they work or surveying violence-affected participants. We shed light on how academic research in violent political settings poses unique security concerns for enumerators, with ramifications for data integrity. Summary of findings (French)
Consider the Source: Individual Variation in Reporting Electoral Violence, with Leonardo Arriola, Arsène Brice Bado, Allison Grossman, and Aila M. Matanock Pre-Analysis Plan. The lack of locally sourced data remains an obstacle to improving knowledge about election violence around the world. Researchers continue to largely rely on secondhand forms of data, whether sourced from media reports or election monitors. But the uncertain accuracy and validity of such data sources raises critical questions about our understanding of fundamental dynamics relating to the victims and perpetrators of election violence. In this paper, we present a theoretical framework for assessing the likelihood that differently situated individuals report on violent events they have witnessed or experienced firsthand. Drawing on an original survey conducted across 289 urban and rural locations in the run-up to Côte d’Ivoire’s 2020 presidential elections, we show that there is no significant difference in reporting between citizens and leaders despite social status distinctions. Instead, we find that key demographic factors consistently affect the likelihood of reporting: while women and rural residents are less likely to report violence, we find little systematic difference in reporting based on partisanship or ethnic identity. We show that violence reporting is correlated with exposure to other forms of conflict, namely, ethnic, religious, or land. We further show that there are few or small differences in the likelihood of reporting across forms of violence (i.e., property damage, killings, physical assaults, verbal threats). The findings presented here contribute to emerging discussions focused on improving data-collection methodologies for election violence and potential policy interventions aimed at reducing the outbreak of such violence.
Documenting Electoral Violence: Assessing Tradeoffs in Data Collection Methodologies, with Leonardo Arriola, Arsène Brice Bado, Allison Grossman, and Aila M. Matanock
Pre-Analysis Plan. The lack of accurate locally sourced data is an obstacle to improving knowledge of electoral violence in African countries. Research on this form of violence is often based on secondary sources that limit the level of detail and even the accuracy of associated data. In this context, we collect data from four distinct types of sources — civil society monitors, local leaders, citizens, and media — to compare their effectiveness in generating data on various forms of electoral coercion and violence. We expect that the probability of observing and reporting violence will vary based on the incentives facing these different types of sources. We compare violence reports generated by each of these sources to the others, and to publicly available violence datasets. For this assessment, sources were randomly assigned to urban and rural locations across Côte d’Ivoire, over a six-month period around the country’s October 2020 presidential elections. This is a context where elections have been routinely marred by violence since the reestablishment of multiparty politics. Data were collected before the election and three weeks afterward, and an endline survey of all sources was conducted three months after the election. The project’s resulting assessment identifies tradeoffs associated with each data source in terms of validity, accuracy, scalability, and cost — factors to be taken into account by organizations that seek to build their own data collection programs or even use those of others to better understand electoral violence. The primary goal in this research is to develop a protocol that provides African researchers with reliable, replicable, and low-cost means for collecting data on electoral violence in diverse settings. While versions of the sourcing described above have been employed in some African countries, no existing study has sought to integrate these approaches to determine the degree to which they can produce comparable levels of information both in terms of quality and quantity.