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In recent years, a variety of efforts have been made in political science to enable, encourage, or require scholars to be more open and explicit about the bases of their empirical claims and, in turn, make those claims more readily evaluable by others. While qualitative scholars have long taken an interest in making their research open, reflexive, and systematic, the recent push for overarching transparency norms and requirements has provoked serious concern within qualitative research communities and raised fundamental questions about the meaning, value, costs, and intellectual relevance of transparency for qualitative inquiry. In this Perspectives Reflection, we crystallize the central findings of a three-year deliberative process—the Qualitative Transparency Deliberations (QTD)—involving hundreds of political scientists in a broad discussion of these issues. Following an overview of the process and the key insights that emerged, we present summaries of the QTD Working Groups’ final reports. Drawing on a series of public, online conversations that unfolded at www.qualtd.net, the reports unpack transparency’s promise, practicalities, risks, and limitations in relation to different qualitative methodologies, forms of evidence, and research contexts. Taken as a whole, these reports—the full versions of which can be found in the Supplementary Materials—offer practical guidance to scholars designing and implementing qualitative research, and to editors, reviewers, and funders seeking to develop criteria of evaluation that are appropriate—as understood by relevant research communities—to the forms of inquiry being assessed. We dedicate this Reflection to the memory of our coauthor and QTD working group leader Kendra Koivu.1
Research on civil war mobilization emphasizes armed group recruitment tactics and individual motivations to fight, but does not explore how individuals come to perceive the threat involved in civil war. Drawing on eight months of fieldwork with participants and nonparticipants in the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992–93, this article argues that social structures, within which individuals are embedded, provide access to information critical for mobilization decisions by collectively framing threat. Threat framing filters from national through local leadership, to be consolidated and acted on within quotidian networks. Depending on how the threat is perceived—whether toward the self or the collectivity at its different levels—individuals adopt self- to other-regarding roles, from fleeing to fighting on behalf of the collectivity, even if it is a weaker actor in the war. This analysis sheds light on how the social framing of threat shapes mobilization trajectories and how normative and instrumental motivations interact in civil war.
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