Project: “Journalists, Intermediaries, and Advocates in Rural India”

Principal Investigator: Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner, University of Virginia

Partner Organization: Video Volunteers (

Are you interested in Action Research? Excited about community journalism and local politics? This is a great opportunity to work with both academics and one of India’s leading NGOs on an applied research program. Come learn about fieldwork and research methods, while engaging with local activists and social movements!

Project duration:             July – mid-October 2018 (3—3.5 months, dates to be determined)

Required training:           July 9 – 13, 2018 (Goa, India)

Locations:                        Fieldwork states to be determined, likely: Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar

How to apply:                   Send a resume and 1-page letter of interest to Tracy Cordo:

Application deadline:      ASAP (application will be reviewed on a rolling basis until June 30th)

Video Volunteers (VV, is India’s largest community media organization. VV coordinates a network of 250 “Community Correspondents” (CCs) who are trained to produce videos documenting deficiencies in public service delivery and other governance failures, and who use those videos to attempt to remedy local problems. The CCs thus act as both journalists (documenting and casting evidentiary light) and as advocates (seeking to motivate action on the part of officials). Since many are drawn from social movement networks, they also operate within a moral economy marked by strong norms of social service. They are thus uniquely placed as social as well as political intermediaries, bridging the gap between officials and ordinary – and in particular poor – citizens. Video Volunteers is collaborating with Dr. Kruks-Wisner, of the University of Virginia’s Political Science Department, to study the networks, activities, strategies, and impacts of these Community Correspondents.

Research Study
Our research is designed to investigate variation in the Community Correspondent’s impacts, asking why some are more successful than others in soliciting responses from local officials. At the same time, we also seek to understand the CCs’ broader impact in their local communities, as well as on officials. Does CC advocacy on a particular issue spillover to others, for example by either encouraging or crowding out other action by officials or by community members? Does the presence of an active CC affect other citizens’ claim-making capabilities or strategies? How does the presence of a CC influence the day-to-day behaviour and decisions of local officials? (See attached Project Description document for more detail.)

The Research Associate will be engaged in a short-term, intensive study of a randomly selected sample of CCs. The aim is to follow a sub-set of CCs over a period of several months, to understand the full range of their activities (above and beyond video-making), to gain a deeper understanding of their broader social and political networks, and their capacities, and constraints.

Position details

  • Research Associates will be required to attend an in-person training in Goa (the week of July 9- 13, specific dates to be determined).
  • RAs will be assigned to a particular field site (to be determined). RAs will be required to reside in their assigned state full time for the duration of the study (July – September, with possible extension into October).
  • RAs will work closely with Researchers to ensure quality of documentation, including participating in weekly supervisory calls.

Duties and responsibilities

The primary responsibility of the Research Associate is to carry out and document in-depth qualitative study of a selected number of Community Correspondents.

  • Each will be assigned a number of Community Correspondents (5-8) within their study state, and will develop a schedule of regular field visits to their home communities (visiting each CC roughly once per month, supplemented by regular (weekly) phone calls to all assigned CCs.
  • For each assigned CC, the RA will:
    • Carry out in-person interviews following a semi-closed questionnaire
      • Record and take notes during interview
      • Transcribe notes, following established project documentation protocols
      • Content analysis of interviews
    • Carry out weekly time use analysis with each CC, using time use diaries, to be administered over the phone
    • Carry out social network mapping exercises with the CCs
    • Carry out interviews with community members residing in the CCs’ areas, following semi-closed questionnaires
    • Carry out interviews with block-level and other government officials in the CCs’ areas, following semi-closed questionnaires
    • In-depth documentation and follow-up on particular cases of interest.


  • Fluency in Hindi (required; native speakers preferred)
  • Proficiency in English (required)
  • Social science background (B.A. or higher; in-progress degrees will be considered)
  • Prior fieldwork experience (required)
  • Qualitative research skills in interviewing and/or focus group discussions (highly desired)
  • Willingness to travel within the assigned state (required)


  • Commensurate with experience. Those with a Masters degree and/or extensive
    demonstrated fieldwork experience will receive a competitive monthly salary. Those with a
          Bachelor’s degree and/or more limited fieldwork experience will receive a competitive
          monthly living stipend.
  • Reimbursement for travel costs and other direct research costs.