Studying Hostile, Deceptive, and Dangerous Surroundings – Report of a Workshop on Social Research Methods for Non-Permissive Environments

Étudier des milieux hostiles, trompeurs et dangereux – Rapport concernant un atelier sur les méthodes de recherche sociale en milieu non permissif


  1. Last, D.
  2. Axani, J.
  3. Jennings, M.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);Royal Military Coll of Canada, Kingston ONT (CAN)
A one-day workshop was held at RMC to explore social research methods for hostile, difficult, deceptive and dangerous environments within which government pursues security objectives. Four panels addressed: qualitative anthropological methods within a theatre; financial analysis to assess the environment surrounding a theatre; police tools in domestic operations; and the use of polls and surveys in difficult environments. A final session permitted practitioners to comment on the material. Practitioners, academics, and government officials discussed these issues without being individually identified. Interviews, focus groups, combat ethnography, and insider-outsider research can help to map social microcosms within a theatre. Financial analysis tools can help to provide a more comprehensive context for these microcosms, and also track individuals and enterprises with security implications. Police tools are tailored to find usable evidence and domestic courts shape practice, limiting applicability of these tools to foreign operations. Polls and surveys should be tailored to the social context of their targets and validated. Often indirect questions are more effective. Practitioners confirmed the importance of multi-method approaches, and close cooperation between field and ‘lab’ to bring critical social science into practice.

Il y a un résumé en français ici.

Anthropology;Social science;Cultural analysis;Cultural awareness;Life history interviewing;Focus groups;Human terrain;Non-permissive environment;Culture systems;Combat ethnography;Open source intelligence;FINTRACK;Polls
Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-CR-2010-122 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Jul 2010
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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