American University
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Survey research in Palestine: Politics and academia

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posted on 2023-09-06, 03:07 authored by Christina Elizabeth Zacharia Hawatmeh

This dissertation seeks to put in sociological perspective the recent introduction and usefulness of public opinion polling in Palestine. In tracing attempts, over several decades, by the Palestinians to make themselves heard and understood and to gain international recognition, the study recognizes both the polls' significance as an extension of that cause and their potential in building state institutions and strengthening national development. When measured against arguments that the surveys are a political by-product of the faulty 1993 Oslo accord, however, it becomes evident that the issue warrants a closer look by any serious study on the Palestinians. The dissertation analyzes the debates surrounding the question of foreign funding for Palestinian NGOs, especially those that conduct the polls. At the center of this debate is the contention that western support, financial and otherwise, for Palestinian research centers actually aims at weakening the grassroots organizations that had served and kept together the West Bank and Gaza Strip populations during the most difficult periods of the occupation. In particular this study examines the legitimacy of the polls within the larger context of their credibility and potential in serving the real needs of Palestinian society. To this end, the methodology used in conducting them and the issue of the representativeness of opinions surveyed are discussed. The analysis places emphasis on the effects of Palestinian culture, on the process itself and its results, especially in a political atmosphere that has been de-developed and charged with tension, insecurity and continued conflict. This study further argues that in the absence of a census of all Palestinians, including those still living in exile, no sample can be truly representative of what the entire population of Palestinians thinks. In trying to bridge the legitimacy gap in the practice of public opinion polling in Palestine, this dissertation offers recommendations to organizations entering into the field of survey research, which if not capable of contributing to their development as an integral and dynamic part of Palestinian society, will at least form a basis for further relevant research.







Thesis (Ph.D.)--American University, 2001.


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