Journal article Open Access

"You're Asking the Wrong Question": Member-Checking during Fieldwork

Grahame, Alyssa


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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;In February 2014, I&amp;rsquo;d been living in Reykjav&amp;iacute;k, Iceland for just a few weeks. I was intending to study &amp;ldquo;the Icelandic Revolution&amp;rdquo; of 2008-2009, when a new series of large, public protests changed my plans. Over the course of a few weeks and then months, I met many of my research participants at these events. One such participant was Kristj&amp;aacute;n1, whom I met when he asked me why a &amp;ldquo;tourist&amp;rdquo; was interested in Icelandic protests. A few months later, in the run-up to municipal elections in May, he invited me to attend an outreach event associated with the Social Democratic Alliance (SDA), one of Iceland&amp;rsquo;s four major political parties at the time. There, Kristj&amp;aacute;n introduced me to another party member named Thorvaldur, and we struck up a conversation that turned into an informal interview. Not unlike Kristj&amp;aacute;n, Thorvaldur expressed curiosity about why an &amp;uacute;&lt;em&gt;tlendingar &lt;/em&gt;(foreigner) such as myself would be interested in Iceland&amp;rsquo;s local politics and asked me to explain the project. Thinking that I had successfully refined my pitch over the past few months, I explained my interest in the various ongoing sovereign debt crises in Europe and the Eurozone, which elicited the question of what the so-called &amp;ldquo;age of austerity&amp;rdquo; meant for the future of social democracy in the European Union. Then, Thorvaldur rather abruptly exclaimed that I was &amp;ldquo;asking the wrong question!&amp;rdquo; &amp;ldquo;Instead,&amp;rdquo; he told me, &amp;ldquo;you should be asking whether social democracy has a future &lt;em&gt;without &lt;/em&gt;the European Union&amp;rdquo; (personal communication, April 2014).&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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