Bridging the qualitative-quantitative divide in comparative migration studies: newspaper data, and political ethnography in mixed method research

Mügge, Liza
September 2016
Comparative Migration Studies;9/12/2016, Vol. 4 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Newspaper data are popular in Comparative Migration Studies as they allow diachronic and cross-national comparison and are relatively easy and inexpensive to acquire. Critics, however, warn that newspaper data are hampered by selection, description and researcher bias. This article argues that research drawing on newspaper data can be improved by employing mixed methods to confirm and complement data and to analyze findings from different research paradigms. To demonstrate this claim, I ethnographically re-analyze part of the dataset of the Mobilisation on Ethnic Relations, Citizenship and Immigration (MERCI) project. I chose MERCI as publications based on its data, which I am well acquainted with, have inspired numerous researchers and European comparative research projects to pursue newspaper content analysis. This article shows how an ethnographic approach can address description bias and researcher unreliability, and reveal selection bias. It offers concrete suggestions for incorporating political ethnography into newspaper analysis. In doing so it advocates a new path for empirical research in Comparative Migration Studies, one that bridges the qualitative-quantitative divide. The conclusion encourages researchers on both sides of the quantitative-qualitative spectrum to reconsider habitual and safe research paradigms and move towards the middle to improve the quality of their work.


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