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How my interviews ended
I am back in Germany but before I will inform you about the latest changes in my life you have to know everything about my interviewing experiences.
Well, the hardest thing when doing interviews is to find representativ respondands, or TO FIND respondands. I had to give up on the idea of representativity a long time ago when a German Roma Rights activist told me: "Romania? You better go to Slovakia for your research because the Roma population in Romania is VERY diverse!"
This is why I decided to do qualitative instead of quantitative research because the idea here is not to be representativ but to let your research guide you into the right direction. (if you want to know more about qualitative research please go to the next library...)
Anyways, I decided to focus on Roma from the Cluj area. In the beginning I was afraid that people might not want to talk to a blonde German girl. Since I interviewed University students first I did not encounter this problem at the beginning of my research. Then I went to the Garbage dumps and found two women who were happy to be interviewed. It was harder with the men. My first respondand seemed to be drunk and his answers did not make any sense to me. After the interview he wanted to marry me and to come to Germany with me. Two other men I talked to were also more interested in me than my interviews and in the end I asked one of the women I had interviewed to find me some guys who would actually give me honest answers. Maybe not a very representativ way of finding respondands but qualitative research is also about gaining access.....
I interviewed "civilized" Roma living in apartment buildings next. It was really hard to find them. Since most of them are not organized in organizations and do not live in a community you have to know them personally. I went to ask one of my neighbours. And guess whom they reffered me to? Yes! To Vandar the known criminal!!! In the end they all seem to be friends with him.....
I spoke to his sister first. She was very helpful and I did the interview with her. I asked her, If she knew any other people living in apartments and I ended up doing two more interviews. I know that in theory the respondands should not know each other but again you have to consider whom you have access to.....
Unfortunately one of the other respondands told me all kind of stories about him having a lot of money, a house etc. I found out afterwards that he lived with his mother and does not have money either.
At some point I decided to also interview activists. This turned out to be very easy. I just called them, set the date and time, and then did the interviews. Two women, two men. Instead of arranging marriage we arranged future collaborations.....
I still had not given up on my plan to interview some Gabors. I had been told before that it would be difficult to get into contact with them. My rescue was Marita. Vandar´s, the known criminal´s, mother. She speaks Romanian, Hungarian, and Romani but taught her children only Romanian because her husband did not speak any other languges. She sells second hand clothes at the market and has a good relationship to some of the Gabor women. She told me that she could put me into contact with them If I came with her to the market. I tried my luck for four days. The result was a Gabor man who wanted to marry me and jealous women telling me to get lost. One of them even slapped me on the butt when i did not leave fast enough....
After this experiences I decided to change my strategy. I asked my friend Marian to do the remaining ten interviews for me and to stress on making good quality interviews with males. Marian is Roma himself, has access to communities and he is a MAN. Well, actually he usually has the opposite problem than me. Whenever he does community work the women try to hitch on him and last year in the summer one girl was even sent to him at night when he was sleeping in his tent........
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