Presentation on theme: "UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Subject-subject or subject-object relationships? The practicalities of doing qualitative research in Russian-speaking migrants."— Presentation transcript:
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Subject-subject or subject-object relationships? The practicalities of doing qualitative research in Russian-speaking migrants in London Darya Malyutina UCL Department of Geography
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Some history Russian migration to the UK in its current size is a recent phenomenon Since the beginning of the 20 th century – intellectuals, politicians, and revolutionaries Migration increased after the break-up of the Soviet Union Diaspora established and started to grow rapidly 10-15 years ago
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Figures Exact number of migrants from the FSU in London and the UK – still unclear! In London – estimated between 300,000 and 500,000 Top nationalities for UK visa applications: Indian (19%) Nigerian (8%), Pakistani and Chinese (each 7%), and Russian nationals (6%) Year 2007: 258,000 Russian people given a leave to enter to UK (Home Office, 2008; Danzelman, 2009) Of those, 82,500 (business visitors, students, work permit holders, spouses of UK citizens) are most likely to stay for long and become members of the diaspora
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Infrastructure The Embassy, two Orthodox churches, at least one newspaper exist for more than half a century Cultural organizations (The Russian Speaking Community Council, Pushkin House etc.), cultural production and promotion organizations like Eventica and Ensemble Productions At least 13 schools Around 10 newspapers and magazines More than 20 restaurants More than 100 shops …and a lot of law firms
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Settlement and social stratification “…no area of compacted habitation” (Russian Embassy) Disperse character of settlement, largely class- defined Presence of all social layers and occupational categories in the community
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Case study 1 Relationships between migrants: bar ethnography Initial insight into the social life of Russian- speaking community: ethnographic study of a Russian bar. Aimed to show how sociality and friendship ties are sustained and reproduced in a definite place relevant to migrants’ community.
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Case study 1 Methods and objectives February-June 2009 Method: participant observation Focused on the following areas: –the bar environment; –the history of the bar; –relationships of various types: a) between owner and staff; b) among bartenders; c) between staff and customers; d) among customers (Russian-speaking staff and customers were regarded separately from non-Russian speakers).
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Case study 2 Networks and friendship in the migrant community Friendship and networking - important source of social capital and help maintaining social cohesion Aimed at exploring the more general networking process among Russian-speaking migrants in London
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Case study 2 Methods January-July 2010 Narrative interviewing of a sample of Russian-speaking migrants selected by snowball technique (25 people) Respondents tell stories about how they got acquainted with all London-based Russian-speakers whose numbers they have in their mobile phonebooks The biggest possible variety of respondents’ social statuses
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Problems of access and establishing relationships Examples: perception of the researcher as a KGB agent; impossible to chase the person working as a butler for Berezovsky’s family; non-motivated refuse from a very secretive lawyer
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Problems of sustaining relationships Ethnography implies a high degree of involvement into the life of community “Sometimes there is nothing to talk about with you. You are all about your science and books” Hypocrisy in relationships for the sake of research?
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Problems of “tangible” character i.e. physical risks Alcohol consumption – very topical for our research “I will give you an interview, but only if I am smoking at the same time. And if you are smoking with me.”
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Problems of the attitude to respondents Are these people my friends or objects for study? Some moments and patterns of communication become natural for your personal everyday life and fall out from your interest as a researcher Too personal perception of certain interactions may bias your analysis
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY Problems of researcher’s involvement and identity “Looking-glass self”: created through the imagination of how one's self might be understood by another individual Who am I – researcher or part of the group? Fragmentation of personality
UCL DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. Friedrich Nietzsche