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Article
The 800-Pound Gaijin in the Room: Strategies and Tactics for Conducting Fieldwork in Japan and Abroad
PS : Political Science and Politics (2009)
  • Daniel P Aldrich, Purdue University
Abstract
Most graduate school training for United States-based political scientists focuses on details ranging from properly defining one’s independent variable to ensuring that we have sufficient cases from which to draw broader conclusions. And doctoral candidates regularly fly off to carry out fieldwork in developing and developed nations alike with two suitcases, several semesters of language training and a recently approved prospectus. But few of us receive advice on how to handle religious and cultural differences between ourselves and our informants or how to respond to situations in which we feel uncomfortable or perhaps in danger. Rarer still is advice on how to gain interviews with important decision makers or how to balance confidentiality with replicability. This article lays out a framework for approaching fieldwork abroad using my experiences as a base in combination with the best practices adopted from anthropological and social science literatures (e,g, Hendry 1999; Bestor, Bestor, and Steinhoff 2003; Stern 2003).
Keywords
  • fieldwork,
  • preparation,
  • practical advice
Publication Date
Spring April, 2009
Citation Information
Daniel P Aldrich. "The 800-Pound Gaijin in the Room: Strategies and Tactics for Conducting Fieldwork in Japan and Abroad" PS : Political Science and Politics Vol. 42 Iss. 2 (2009)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/daniel_aldrich/1/