Doing Qualitative Research with Migrants as a Native Citizen: Reflections from Spain


  • Alberto Martín Pérez Universidad Complutense de Madrid



qualitative methods, direct observation, social interview, reflexivity, immigration, policy analysis


In order to look for new ways of evaluating immigration policies, I started research based on direct observations and qualitative interviews within the Oficinas de Extranjeros—the Spanish Offices for Immigration. I soon realised that my position as a researcher in this context was controversial, related to the fact that I was a Spanish citizen among foreigners, in a place where the only Spanish citizens were policemen or civil servants. I reflected upon this divide and the way in which I was, I felt, being perceived as part of the "institution": as a middle-class Spanish citizen with little "obviously" in common with the immigrants I sought to research. Reflecting on this led me to test a number of research "strategies" in an attempt to break through the insider/outsider barriers between migrant and non-migrant. The paper will reflect upon these strategies, and more generally, it will review the difficulties and dilemmas of becoming an insider (a friend) whilst beginning as an obvious outsider (a stranger). URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs060319


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Author Biography

Alberto Martín Pérez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Alberto MARTÍN PÉREZ is a research fellow at the Department of Sociology I (Social Change) at the University Complutense of Madrid. He is currently preparing his PhD dissertation at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and at the University Complutense of Madrid on the way immigrants' lives are influenced by their relationship with the Spanish institutions. He is particularly interested in developing ethnographic approaches in public policy analysis.



How to Cite

Martín Pérez, A. (2006). Doing Qualitative Research with Migrants as a Native Citizen: Reflections from Spain. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(3).