Research on New Media and Muslims in Europe

I was asked to provide a response – well paid – to a questionnaire on New Media and Europe’s Muslims by the Ergo Advisers research group out of New York. As the ‘vanguard of a new model of advisory services’, they provide their clients with ‘honest and actionable’ research (this action bit will make the question quoted later seem, well, interesting). Ergo clients include: Fortune 500 firms, hedge funds, corporations, private investors, and NGOs – who will use this research, and feel secure because ‘Ergo stands alone in its ability to deliver the precise knowledge needed to thrive in today’s dynamic information environment’.

Suspicious and paranoid, first of all I thought it was a scam thought up by malicious freak friends who were having some xmas-time fun with the ‘dynamic’ rhetoric of new modes of research – ‘vanguard’ even – but I am assured this stuff is for real.

So, feeling I had no reason not to get further annoyance for free, I had the questionnaire sent to me. Needless to say I have not quite found time to fill it in (as if). (I’ve also a heavy cold, hangover, and a pressing visit to the cinema).

I have just now written back politely:

Dear Marni

Can’t do it. With all good intentions, having read the survey questions, I was going to spend some time offering a critique of the underlying assumptions and how problematic I think this sort of ‘research’ is (its not research in any critical sense, its only going to be ‘useful’ to people who want to confirm stereotype and profile – as if European Muslims use new media any differently than anyone else…).

Questions like:

1. How successful have European governments been at counteracting the effects of organizing/mobilizing possibilities of new media tools for European Muslims (especially uses perceived as subversive or revolutionary)?

kind of give the game away. Unless this is a trick question, though its not the only one that reveals deeply prejudiced assumptions in this. I hope you don’t think critical scholars are going to participate. I certainly disagree with the framing, and wonder just what sort of results you will end up with.

For the record, I now am concerned as to why/who put you onto me as my research is not framed in terms even close to those set out here – but anyway, … Sorry I did not have more time to make a thorough critique – its the sort of project I like to skewer. You might consider some of the debates that have been going on here (the comments section, not the actual post).

Professor John Hutnyk. Researcher.

ps. needless to say I’ll forgo – ergo – the offered financial incentives/blood money.