Social science research and field work in Afghanistan

Rafiq Ullah Kakar
Opinion Research Center of Afghanistan (ORCA), Afghanistan


Afghanistan has faced continuous conflict, occupation and civil war since 1979. The resulting violence and aftermath of the conflict have deeply affected the socio-political dynamics of the country. This paper tries to understand the meaning and nature of that everyday violence, investigate dangers in field work and put forth real life examples of courage and creativity in the field and explore how that can be a symbol of hope for a better future in this war weary country.

The human cost of the Afghan conflict has been enormous; in addition, the conflict has resulted in weak governance structures, corruption, flourishing drug trade, warlord-ism and social instability. The effects of violence in Afghan society are not one dimensional but portray distinct realities due to multiple ethnic, social and cultural perspectives and diverse regional interests. The effects of the multiple dimensions of violence have been extensive in Afghanistan. The results of the ongoing conflict and violence have produced nothing but death, disability, destruction, and collapse of the health care and education systems. The militarization of society and the conflict have led to numerous other concerns: war related injuries; landmine explosion victims; sexual abuse during war; severe mental health concerns of a huge number of refugees; internally displaced people; widespread trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. All these factors reiterate the omnipresent nature of violence in Afghan society.

Researching conflict: the problem