This report outlines the challenges facing researchers as they engage with local communities in countering and preventing violent extremism. It focuses on interviews using the lifestory approach as well as the snowball sampling technique and the difficulties arising when using these methods. Some of the main problems for field workers to grapple with are first of all gaining access to subjects, given that many may be unwilling to discuss traumatic events from past conflicts and that these experiences may be taboo to discuss. Many members of affected communities may also be wary of researchers’ motives and therefore be reticent regarding sensitive information. There are also challenges in implementing the approach, as many staff are required to identify participants and carry out the interviews, a process that also requires a great deal of time and necessitates long-term funding. Researchers must balance the demands of both efficient work as well as respectful treatment of local communities. Security is also a concern given the volatility of these regions, putting workers at risk of backlash from the communities, violent organizations, and even from governments themselves. These and other challenges must be considered when designing the research project in order for it to be safe, effective, and ethical.
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