Centre for Security, Armed Forces and Society

March 2010

Social Research Methods for Non-Permissive Environments

This one-day workshop co-hosted by RMCC, DRDC Toronto and DSRI explored methods for collecting and analyzing operationally useful information about the social, psychological and economic conditions in environments that are hostile, dangerous, or deceptive, including conflict zones, diasporas, and criminal or terrorist organizations. We began with anthropological and qualitative methods, considering both academic fieldwork and the work of human terrain assessment teams for the US Army. Economic tools can help to map the larger context of operations, including the behaviour of companies, and the formal and informal economic exchange between people and economic actors. Police tools have a special salience because of standards of evidence and application of network analysis, and technical means can help to provide information to flesh out our understanding of how networks function under different circumstances. Our final panel is an exploration of survey approaches in non-permissive environments, including detection of suspect survey results, and designing surveys that can capture useful dynamics. We will conclude with feedback from practitioners about the utility and interconnections of the sources and methods discussed.

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