The household survey on agency and governance in Maharashtra, India (Justino, P et al, 2015) alongside Households amidst urban riots: the economic consequences of civil violence in India (Justine, P et al, 2015) seek to “identify empirically the determinants of riot victimization at the household level” (Justino, P et al, 2015, p.1). At first glance, the positive attributes of the research, such as the well-structured questionnaire, the interviews of numerous members of a household, the use of multistage sampling and the explanation to why the researchers’ initial theories were wrong, are evident. However, through closer inspection, it is possible to notice the absence of information regarding the research’s pilot survey and most importantly, the potential for ambiguity as there is no clear indication about whether or not the culture of the Maharashtra district was adequately accounted for, or if the various mother tongues of the respondents led to communication issues between researcher and respondent. The credibility level of the survey and its subsequent analysis is therefore diminished as quantitative data cannot illustrate potential misunderstandings due to different levels of fluency in a particular language.
First of all, it is important to emphasize the positive qualities of the household survey and its analysis in Households amidst urban riots: the economic consequences of civil violence in India (Justino, P et al, 2015. The survey questionnaire is very well-made, closely adhering to the characteristics that Cloke P et al (2004) consider as essential in order to collect valuable and significant information: the questions are kept simple, there are no double-barrelled questions, proverbs or double negatives and most imp...
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...espondents whose mother tongue is Urdu fully understand the questions? Were they able to answer the questions in the same way as they would have in their mother tongue? Also, how adequate was the translation from English to Marathi? According to Müller (cited by Smith, 2010, p.164), it is essential to “adopt critical approaches to translation and to understand the political and cultural impact of the loss of meaning for key terms when they come to be translated between languages, particularly when they deal with key terms […] such as home […], family […] [and] community”. Considering that the terms ‘community’ and ‘neighbourhood’ were essential in collecting data about household victimisation and that it’s unclear whether or not some languages had a completely different definition of these terms compared to others, it is possible to see this research as incomplete.
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