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Methodological Frame of the ForMOVe Project

The research project "Forced Migration and Organized Violence" is build on three axes regarding its methodology:

The Comparative and Transdisciplinary Research Approach

While each of the regions included in the ForMOVe project presents a complex reality and a variety of methodological challenges, a comparative study of both promises to generate novel contributions to the analytical understanding of the interrelationship between organized violence and forced migration. Both regions vary in terms of the forms of violence manifested in them and the patterns of migration within them. At the same time, the cases of Mexico and Turkey show evident similarities that indicate the value of a comparative perspective that would better expose their underlying dynamics and that would allow the elaboration of more generalizable findings.

Given the below mentioned methodological considerations, the research project requires the collaborative participation of several social science disciplines. In particular, the empirical focus on multiple geographical scales and the need to deploy distinct research methods call for input from sociologists, anthropologists, and political scientists.

The Multi-sited and Multi-scale Research Approach

ForMOVe is a multi-sited research project on the national level as well as on the regional level. It compares not only two countries that in the past years have become transit countries for migrants in two different world regions - Mexico and Turkey - but it also focuses on three different regions and urban areas within each of these countries.

Mexico: Mexico City, Apizaco, Ciudad Serdán, Tapachula, Ixtepec, Acayucan, Matamoros, Caborca, Hermosillo, Tijuana

In Mexico, the research team already collected qualitative data in Mexico City as it is a place where many migrants pass by or even settle temporarily.

Furthermore, (depending on the development of the current Covid19 pandemic) it is planned to conduct field work in the south of Mexico, in the city of Tapachula near the mexican-guatemalan border, and in Tijuana in the north of Mexico. For many migrants Tapachula is the entry point to Mexico and an milestone in their migration trajectory but it is also a place where migrants are highly vulnerable and where they may be subjected to violence by various actors.In Tijuana, a border town close to the U.S.-mexican border, the migrants heading towards the United States have already crossed Mexico and and were therefore in many cases exposed to different forms of (organized) violence. Also, Tijuana is a place where a lot of migrants are forced to stay for a certain period of time until they may find a possibility to cross the border.

The collection of the quantitative data took part in cities and villages located along one of the traditional migrant routes through Mexico covering places in the very south of Mexico (Tapachula, Ixtepec, Acayucan), the center of Mexico (Mexico City, Ciudad Serdán, Apizaco) and in the northern parts of Mexico (Matamoros, Caborca, Hermosillo).

Turkey: Istanbul, Gaziantep, Izmir

In Turkey, the field research will be conducted in three provinces. Gaziantep is at the Southern East part of Turkey and it is very close to Syria. It is one of the entry points for forced migrants. Almost a fifth of the Gaziantep population are registered Syrian migrants under temporary protection. The province hosts 452,113 registered Syrian migrants.

The second city is Istanbul, it has the largest population of all cities and hosts the largest migrant population. According to DGMM statistics, besides other refugee groups it hosts 554,289-registered Syrians.

The third city is Izmir, it is the third most populated city in Turkey. There is a population of 146,929 registered Syrian migrants in Izmir. It is also an important city for forced migrants as it is situated in the Western part of the country and very close to Greece.

Micro level: Individuals and groups of migrants
Meso level:
Migrant/civil organizations and local state actors

The dynamics of migration, development, and violence unfold across vast areas and respond to pressures at quite distinct scales, from international regions to nation-­states or localities. A research perspective broad enough to capture them will attend to the variety of spatial scales across which they proceed. The ForMOVe research project therefore follows a multi-scale research approach.

Accordingly, the data gathering focuses on the micro level and the meso level. It will take into account local, national and global dimensions and analyse different levels of power relations that are both a cause for and a result of the forced migration-organized violence-nexus.

The Use of Mixed Research Methods

In order to improve its empirical purview and analytical potential, the project will employ diverse quantitative and qualitative methods and research techniques. This will permit researchers to articulate their findings across scales and between sites. Quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis will proceed in parallel. The project makes use of the following research methods and techniques at each of the sites where the field work will be conducted.

Quantitative research
  • Standardized longitudinal survey
Qualitative research
  • Ethnographic visits to immigrant shelters and organizations
  • Narrative biographical interviews with migrants
  • Semi-structured expert interviews with organization representatives and politicians
  • Document gathering and analysis of governance regimes