Analyzing ethnographic interviews: Three studies on terrorism and nonviolent resistance
This article describes three analyses of ethnographic interviews conducted with violent and nonviolent political activists. The findings show that the deliberations of violent and nonviolent activists focus on state violence and rational choice calculations (Studies I and II), while nonviolent activists moreover consider perceptions of themselves and state actors, among other factors (Study II). In a highly repressive setting, nonviolent activists choose individual over collective resistance (Study III). By revealing how violent and nonviolent activists reason about their behaviour, the findings complement statistical analyses of datasets on external factors, such as economic conditions, political institutions, social networks or political events. Such datasets are typically readily available or can be constructed from publicly available data, while interview transcripts are more time-consuming to assemble. Furthermore, replicable quantitative methods are not straightforwardly applied to qualitative interviews. This article instead applies Spradley’s ethnographic analysis (Study I) and Corbin and Strauss’s grounded theory (Studies II and III) to examine interview transcripts. In addition to the substantive findings, the analyses make a methodological contribution to qualitative studies of interviews by systematically identifying each factor addressed by an interview transcript.