Public Opinion Research in a Conflict Zone: Grassroots Diplomacy in Darfur
This paper introduces a set of methods that have been used to capture attitudes and opinions in a conflict environment. Based on an ongoing project in Darfur, it details the two main streams of research: one developed to carry out interviews on the ground to allow people to frame key issues using their own language and world views; and the other, to keep contact with the formation of opinions from a distance, particularly when the security situation or other obstacles prevent the researchers from being in the field. The result of the combination of the two streams is the production of rich narratives about the actors involved in or affected by the conflict, their interests and the paths they value as the most effective to overcome the crisis and move toward reconciliation. The objective of this, and similar research, is the development of a grassroots diplomacy, a way to include a wider variety of voices in the negotiation process and in the building of a consensual idea of a post-conflict society.