Shaken or stirred? Unsafe fieldwork in the social sciences

Dr Nicholas Apoifis watched as riot law enforcement directed neo-Nazis as they attempted to lure trade unionists and anarchists. They were being in the midst of a violent protest versus the 2011 austerity actions in Greece.

“The cops were telling neo-Nazis when to assault and from which aspect of the protest, figuring out that the protestors couldn’t escape in the other path for the reason that the cops have been on that aspect,” Dr Apoifis suggests.

It was sight-observed evidence that law enforcement and neo-Nazis have been colluding in the brutal crackdown on anti-governing administration dissent in Athens.

UNSW’s Dr Nicholas Apoifis managed to escape a protest in Athens simply because he had prepared in advance.

“Tear gas canisters were being also shot into the protestors,” Dr Apoifis claims. “But with this kind of a minimal trajectory that they would strike the asphalt and skid into the bodies of civilians.”

Dr Apoifis says he experienced been having notes at the time, when “suddenly a remarkably militarised riot law enforcement officer grabs me by the scruff of the neck and threatens me with imprisonment.” 

Dr Apoifis claimed to be just a curious tourist, explaining himself out of the extremely intense scenario. 

“He didn’t believe that me at first,” the UNSW politics and intercontinental relations specialist claims. 

But immediately after rifling by his backpack to find a Lonely Earth and maps with tourist web pages circled on them, the riot officer inevitably let Dr Apoifis go. The tutorial had considered ahead, arrived perfectly-prepared. 

“It would have been a quite tricky and hostile situation had he [the riot officer] taken me to jail or done everything even further,” Dr Apoifis says. 

Greek austerity protests 2011

Law enforcement and protestors clash for the duration of the 2011 austerity protests in Greece. (Photograph: Shutterstock)

Dr Apoifis’s tale is a single of 9 uncooked, even hair-boosting experiences comprehensive by UNSW teachers in their just lately released e book Navigating Fieldwork in the Social Sciences: danger, threat and reward.

The notion for the reserve arose during relaxed conversations about beverages involving Dr Apoifis and UNSW criminology professional Dr Phillip Wadds about their area analysis activities. 

The teachers realised there was a absence of instruction and guidance to get ready scientists for executing fieldwork in the frequently dynamic, complicated and unsafe environments they face.  

For the e-book, Dr Apoifis and Dr Wadds teamed up with colleagues, Dr Susanne Schmeidl and Dr Kim Spurway, to assemble stories from other social scientists about what can occur just before, all through and soon after being in the industry.

A van burns during protests in Greece

A man watches as the streets of Greece go up in flames throughout the 2011 protests. (Photograph: Shutterstock)

The classes figured out, knowledge and a must have wisdom shared in this exceptional driving-the-scenes glimpse into social sciences study, are envisioned to inform and attain some others who have interaction in risky operate.    

“It was scary – incredibly terrifying – and I received lucky,” Dr Apoifis says of his encounter in Athens. “And we never want men and women to get fortunate in the subject. We want them to be as ready as probable, so they really don’t obtain on their own in these hard and tests scenarios.”

Following the International Economic Crisis, then-Greek Key Minister George Papandreou acknowledged stringent austerity actions in 2011 as a affliction of the 110bn euro ‘bail-out’ to help repay the country’s debts.

The shift resulted in decrease wages, an improve in taxes, decreased pensions, and the closure of an believed 100,000 corporations adopted as a final result. By 2013, the unemployment fee experienced skyrocketed to 28 per cent.

By means of his investigation about the anti-government clashes, Dr Apoifis uncovered the locations, names and other delicate information that, in the palms of some sections of the Greek condition, could have compromised the security of those people associated. In the chapter on his perform, he discusses how the safety of his sources was tantamount.

Dr Apoifis has also documented his fieldwork in Greece in his e book Anarchy in Athens: an ethnography of militancy, emotions and violence which examines the politics and dynamics of anti-federal government activism.

Dr Phillip Wadds: caught off-guard by a standover man in Kings Cross

Kings Cross sign

The legendary Coca Cola indicator at the intersection of Darlinghurst Highway and William Road marks the gateway into Sydney’s Kings Cross. (Photo: Shutterstock)

“I appeared like Casper the sh** frightened ghost — the blood had just drained from my confront. I understood who the person was,” suggests Dr Phillip Wadds.

It was just about 6am in Sydney’s Kings Cross when a nicely-recognised “standover man” walked in on Dr Wadds conducting an job interview.

Unfold across the desk in front of the criminologist and his job interview matter, a Kings Cross nightclub protection guard, have been his handwritten notes and a voice recorder. 

“[The standover man] was certainly alarmed when he arrived in. I am certain he probably imagined I was a cop. He stated, ‘What the f*** is heading on here?’ And I was considering, ‘How do I [get myself out of this]?’” 

Dr Phillip Wadds

UNSW criminologist Dr Phillip Wadds has walked the line concerning institutional ethics and ‘real world’ scenarios.

The good news is, Dr Wadds experienced constructed up plenty of have confidence in with the safety guard through the preceding months that he commenced to “vouch” for him, stating the tutorial was just “there carrying out some study on the Cross”. 

“It was so powerful,” Dr Wadds suggests. The UNSW tutorial tried using to de-escalate the situation by giving to delete the voice recordings and to damage his notes. 

“But in that second, my make contact with was also declaring, ‘Oh, don’t stress, he knows this man or woman, he is aware that person’. And, of course, I did know all those individuals, but that was then implicating all those people today who were involved in my investigation.”

This elevated some “very genuine moral concerns” about exposing his contacts to a standover gentleman, Dr Wadds claims. But he did not think about it until finally afterwards because of the rush of adrenaline at the time. 

“If he [the security guard] hadn’t vouched for me … very well, who knows what would have transpired, these are extremely violent adult males. So, it was truly terrifying,” Dr Wadds states. 

William Street in Kings Cross

William Street is the major strip in the nightlife district recognised merely as ‘The Cross’. (Picture: Shutterstock)

In hindsight, Dr Wadds suggests his blunder was in agreeing to satisfy the security guard alone. 

But he made a decision from his better judgment in that instant because it had taken him months to strengthen his marriage with the stability guard to get him to talk about the Kings Cross nightlife. 

Dr Wadds says this is just one example of how institutional ethics can often conflict with the real environment of field investigation.

“I was instructed by my university ethics committee that I had to do all these interviews in public areas,” he claims. “But I couldn’t sit in the avenue or in a cafe and job interview this man and he couldn’t be found to be speaking to anyone in general public with a voice recorder.” 

Dr Wadds’ 10-12 months investigation into the city’s nightlife culminated in numerous articles and a recent e-book titled Policing Nightlife: Stability, transgression and Urban Purchase.

Dr Apoifis and Dr Wadds emphasise the relevance of doing fieldwork to amplify the voices of marginalised individuals as the social sciences are usually silenced or sidelined by governments, institutions, and some NGOs.

“We basically do require to listen to from diverse voices that have been deliberately marginalised and excluded from political, social, cultural and economic discourse and conversation,” Dr Apoifis states.

“Because quantitative measures [that involve collecting and analysing data and statistics] you should not seize the nuances of the human practical experience,” Dr Wadds says.