Survey Chic: Risking Lives, Gathering Garbage

This story has been bothering me for a while:

But what is fascinating is that it was possible to conduct this opinion poll at all – especially given the continuing violence in Iraq and the chaos in war-torn Syria.

Yes, it’s always fascinating to have your workers risk their lives for you.  The Romans were similarly fascinated by gladiatorial combat.

But, OK, perhaps members of the interview team do not have the luxury of earning their money from the safe confines of a boring office and are happy to earn some money in a war zone.

Still, what kind of data are they gathering?

But how do you set about conducting field research in an IS-controlled area?

“In the IS-controlled areas of Raqqa for each survey we visit the head of the town and ask him for permission to randomly interview people,” Mr Heald says.

“His response is ‘so long as you are not an international media station and pull out video cameras, I don’t mind you doing this’.”

“Why is this his reaction? Because, as the data verifies, many of those living in Raqqa now are happier since IS took over.

“They welcome the security, they see IS trying to help the people with electricity, with food, with petrol. In many respects it is a story they are keen to tell.”

I see.

You can’t just go traipsing around the IS-controlled area without IS permission.  Of course, residents know this and realize they are being approached by IS-approved interviewers.  They do not hesitate to vent their rage at IS say that they love IS.  Undoubtedly, IS is eager for feedback about possible flaws in some of the services they provide but everyone is so happy that there isn’t much IS can do to improve.

I’m reminded of the old Monty Python Piranha Brothers sketch in which a man praises Dinsdale Piranha as a “smashing bloke” while conceding that Dinsdale did once nail his head to the floor.

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