POPREBEL Fieldwork Thread


Hi @rebelethno! Here’s a thread that our field ethnographers can use to chat about ongoing questions they have in their fieldwork. Nothing is too small to put here!


I will post a draft of my fieldwork plan here today and a few starting questions I want to try out in first interviews, but I am also thinking about setting up a separate thread on Poland to put in fieldwork notes, basically. What do you think about it @djan @jitka @amelia ? Should we each have a thread for our respective fieldworks?

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Having one here exploring more general fieldwork issues and ideas for cross-country comparison sounds good. It probably makes sense having a separate ‘folder’, documenting our individual fieldwork process, specific to our context. @amelia would the latter, (fieldwork notes, preliminary research etc.) be visible to everyone else?

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By everyone else, do you mean the rest of the ethno team or the community in general? For field notes that for whatever reason need to be fully private, put them in the protected category (you can make your own thread there). Otherwise, feel free to make a thread here.

Ideally, the three of you should come up with a plan of how to organize your notes / data (what goes in private cat, what goes in your language cat, and what goes in this POPREBEL ethnography cat), document the process you agree on in the field manual, and then implement it consistently.

Since @Maniamana, you have a lot of experience with digital ethnography, could you take the lead in setting this procedure up / organizing a meeting with the three of you to plan it together? If you want to start by documenting your thoughts on process as a model, that could be useful for us.

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Also, could you all make Thursday at 17 CET for 30 mins with Maria to do a Tell form intro?

Thursday is bit difficult for me, I am on my course until 7pm :neutral_face:

Okay, we will organize a meeting soon to work out a joint strategy on the matters you mention @amelia!


And when it comes to meeting Maria I am pretty flexible with time till the end of this week!

OK no worries – what time frames work for you this week or early next week?

Friday I am free whole day, Monday until 3pm, Tuesday whole day again :slight_smile:

Hi all.
How much do we know about the utopian futures project? Personally, the topic can blend nicely into my interview questions, should I just incorporate it and later on we’ll be able to extract the relevant bits to the FUTURES project?

Let’s talk to @ivan about what’s going on with the Worldbuilding so we can link up efforts!

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OK, we’ll do Friday at 17 CET with @MariaEuler. 2021-02-19T16:00:00Z2021-02-19T16:30:00Z

Zoom Link here:

sure, what in particular would you like to know?

we could schedule a call for Friday or next week and you could introduce us to the event — do you have availability? Looking forward :slight_smile:

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Friday (aside 11-12 CET) I am flexible, so feel free to schedule it as it works best for you :slightly_smiling_face:

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@Jan @amelia @Richard @wojt @Jirka_Kocian
With @jitka.kralova and @Djan we have put together a research outline/ a list of joint research themes that we think might come up in our respective fieldworks as we try to grasp how/what/why populist tendencies are internalized. Let us know what you think, we are looking forward to our first interviews.
Individual fieldworks-wise, we are pretty much sticking to what’s in our initial fieldwork proposals, keeping in mind the themes below. We guess the challenge in the future will be to narrow down out scope so it feeds a bit more into the comparative analysis.

Field Basics

  • Research group: ??? people experiencing hardship, uncertainty, insecurity, mistrust in relation to the current political/economic/social context???
    Suggestion: Do you mean something like? “(Dis-)Trust, (Mis-)Representation, and (In-)Security : A cross-border qualitative study on the rise of populist sentiments in Czechia, Germany, and Poland”

→ Here the common denominator could be that our questions revolve around the 3 core themes in the title. Ideally we could also find a way to focus on similar target groups (not a most of course, just a way to add more comparative clout).

  • Participant observation:

    • Observing public and private spaces of discussion regarding general wellbeing, state conditions, populism etc, following ethical guidelines.
    • Saving examples of visual expression, such as memes, cartoons, YT video etc - might prove a user to pick the ER hivemind later on.
    • Making notes of relevant discussion themes that seem to be of interest to the study.
  • Network publics mapping, as we fieldwork: to understand various spaces where people engage in online discussion in Germany/Czechia/Poland, also to keep notes where we meet our respective interviewees, but mainly to understand the structure of the network public sphere.

    • Eg.: IG, Tiktok, Twitter, Facebook groups or pages, imageboards, local fora, local governmental webpages.
  • Interviews:

    • narrative, autobiographical, oriented to capture interviewee’s journey to his current political worldview and their current living situation
    • focused on catching temporal
  • EdgeRyders use:

    • Progress threads for each country in their respective languages with content directed at a given ER community.
    • Progress threads for each country in English directed at the POPREBEL team, rather mostly available to everybody else at the ER platform - stuff for the team only we post in other dedicated threads.
    • Tell-form use,
    • Inviting research participants after the interview,
      • Perhaps inviting at once a number of previously interviewed research participants to kick start a discussion a la focus groups.
    • Polls later on too,
    • Fieldwork takeaways as a discussion starting point.
    • would be great to learn from ER team what they “expect” interview volume wise…this would enable us to see what is feasible + the number on interviews, and their lengt (but this might be hard to predict)

Research themes

  • “Anti-intellectualism”, or rather anti-elitism - a critique of the social status quo, intellectual, economic, political elites, more broadly - people currently in power, class divisions
    • Q: When it comes to Covid vaccines, whom do you trust?
    • Q: What do you do when you get sick? Do you choose private or public healthcare?
    • Are those in power connected to the needs of citizens?
  • Information-scape, media-scape: propensity towards disinformation/conspiracy myths, what information sources, including what/if following any “agents of change” - celebrities, advocates, activists, public figures,
    • Q: How do you keep informed on what’s going on currently in your locality/region/country/abroad?
    • Do you follow what’s happening in politics? What interests you?
    • How would you describe your relation/consumption of (mainstream) media? Do you trust mainstream media (this would have to be adopted/tailored to country context given vastly different media landscape)? Or, what media do you find trustworthy?
    • What do you think about media reportage those days?
  • Retrotopia:
    Was it better in the past, or is it better now?
    When you think of tomorrow and the future of your family/country/personal situation, what do you think about?
    When you think of the past/your past of your family/country/personal situation, what do you think about? How does that compare to how you feel today?
  • Myth-building, nation-building, ethnic community building.
  • Imaginaries on belonging and the status quo.
  • Europe and European union: Europeanisation, Euroscepticism:
    • Q: What should be the role of the EU?
    • Q: Was joining the EU a positive thing? What did you think of them? What do you think now? What about various issues related to it, such as the EUR zone, or joint policies?
    • Do you feel European?
    • How do decisions made in Brussels affect you?
  • Globalisation and cosmopolitanism:
    • Q: Where should your country should be on the world stage? → A feeling of inferiority, superiority.
    • Q: Where do you feel at home? Where would you rather live?
    • What do you think about countries working together in unions? Are countries better off, if they look inwards/take care of themselves?
  • Migration, refugee crisis, the idea of the nation-state, nation and ethnicity (“Poland for Poles” etc), superiority of nations, the right to a land, human rights
    • Q: Who is Polish, Czech, German?
    • Q: Who can be Polish? Who can become Polish? What about migrants? Refugees? Who belongs here? Can people not born in your country, without parents from your country, become citizens of your country? (make clear that it is not a legal question) (nativism)
  • Economic or political turning points: how events such as transformation/transition in the 1990s or the crisis in 2008, influenced the interviewee’s life - to generally keep a lookout at how the big events are remembered, and if so, in what context,
    • Also - climate change.
    • influx of asylum seekers 2014-
  • Issues of representation
    • Q: Opinions on public services, state aid, social welfare system, during and before covid:
      • When was better? Is it better now?
      • What was wrong, what changed?
      • What services should be public, what private? Why?
      • What has the Coronavirus pandemic revealed to you/made obvious?
    • Q: Views on the current political system, and in general on democracy, neoliberalism, capitalism, communism:
      • Do you vote?
      • How does the job market look like?
      • What should be the role of the state? What should be the relationship between the state and the market? What should be the taxes (low/high)?
      • How important is it to you, that politicians act in a way that protects what the majority wants?/Should the politicians do what most people want?
      • Is it ok to bend the law/rules, if that means guaranteeing the will of the people?
    • Q: The cupboard state
  • Critical approach to modernity, progress, Westernization:
    • Q about technology, digitalization, communication speeding up, looking for life on Mars.
    • Q: In which direction should we modernize?
    • Q: Is more technology good or bad? What role should it play in society?
    • Q: What are good examples of change? Where should we look up to?
    • Q: Does the Internet make our voices more heard or not, or is there no difference?
  • Values: liberal or traditional?
    • Views on gender roles, women’s rights, reproductive, LGBTQ rights, gender neutrality, and language reforms.
      • Q:
    • Views on tradition and change:
    • Views on collective notions of freedom - a right to free speech, a right to choose medical treatments (anti-vaxxers, alt-med, anti-mask wearing, anti-lockdown), general feeling of agency, possibilities, autocratic state, thought censorship…
  • Religion:
    • Q: Do you have any religious beliefs? If yes, what?
    • Q: What should be the relationship between the church and the state?
  • Community and family: family values, local sense of belonging, the strength of various social ties.
  • Covid crisis:
    • Q: Did you need some kind of support since the pandemic started?
    • Q: If so, where did you seek it? State support or community support, or maybe online on your own, or maybe digital community of strangers (aka forum or FB group)?
    • What do you think, what will happen to the economy? And our pre-pandemic lifestyle? → Looking for a mention of insecurity, uncertainty

Interview structure

  • Starting of with a current event that somehow relates to one of the themes?

→ Questions that everyone can relate to regarding the pandemic and personal well being are a good ice breaker/trust builder. And they also reveal interesting notions, and give informant chance to position themselves early on, i.e. ethnographers can foreshadow a bit

  • Going in broader to understand the general worldview of the interviewee, trying to understand how was it shaped.
  • What is the interviewee critical of? What policies?

thanks a lot @Maniamana! Just a little backgrounder article on the Retrotopia angle/idea. Since conspiracy myths have increasingly been driving far right discourse, and the myths often revolve around notions of imagined restoration of a glorious past + advocating for the reinstallation of former “legitimate” governments/political regimes (f.ex Reichsbürger in Germany , and now also Qanon with its newest March 4 //1871 twist,), we thought it could be an interesting angle to add.

Retrotopia, (concept from Zygmunt Bauman), is the outcome of a dramatic U-turn in the public mindset: “from investing public hopes of improvement in the uncertain and ever-too-obviously un-trustworthy future, to re-investing them in the vaguely remembered past, valued for its assumed stability and so trustworthiness”

Does ’Retrotopia’ explain the Rise of the Radical Right? – Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.


This is very impressive! Well done to all of you.

We will, of course, discuss this in today’s meeting but there are two things I’d like to see more of: (i) perceptions of threat (to the desired conceptualisations of the nation, society, state, etc.) and (ii) gender/sexuality (there is just one question on this). Both of these issues could certainly emerge from interviews on the various topics but I’d like them to be research themes in their own right.

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