Cultural and linguistic minorities can be hard to survey either as the target population of interest or as a subpopulation of a general population survey. The challenges associated with studying these minorities are important to understand in order to assess and address the survey error that can be introduced when designing and implementing studies that include these groups. This chapter begins with a description of what constitutes cultural and linguistic minorities, based on a systematic review of the literature (see Chapter 5 in this volume, for a complete description of the process). We note that the literature in this area is largely limited to research among cultural and linguistic minorities in the context of Western and industrialized countries. Therefore, we supplement this literature by drawing upon our own experience and discussions with colleagues who conduct research among cultural and linguistic minorities in other parts of the world. This review is followed by a discussion of the potential challenges faced by researchers interested in surveying cultural and linguistic minorities and approaches taken to address these challenges in the areas of sampling, questionnaire development, adaptation and translation, pretesting, and data collection. We then discuss additional approaches to studying these hard-to-survey populations including qualitative, mixed-methods, and community-based research methods and how these can complement survey methods. The concluding section addresses needed improvements in the documentation and development of research methods to expand solutions and increase the quality of hard-to-survey cultural and linguistic minority research.
Defining cultural and linguistic minorities
This section sets out the key features of cultural and linguistic minorities. Three core concepts are defined and discussed. First, we define minority populations followed by a discussion of linguistic and cultural minorities. The distinct concept of hard-to-survey is also relevant and discussed in this context (also see Chapter 1 in this volume). On the one hand, it is a relatively straightforward task to define these concepts; however, as we discuss below, applying these definitions in a survey context is far more complicated. Formal definitions serve as a good starting point for this discussion, however.