Market research recruitment organisation Podengo recently launched a survey to recruit people ‘to take part in a project about being a young Muslim in the UK’. Participants will be involved in a ‘90 minute group session’ for which they will receive £50. This seems like a fairly standard project for Podengo who are currently recruiting for projects in various fields, from breastfeeding to technology and even face painting.
Their website informs us that at Podengo they ‘love solving knotty problems’. They do this with ‘relentless enthusiasm in finding the best participants to take part in your market research projects’. So far so good, but the next line could raise an eyebrow for anyone anticipating reliable and valid data on their ‘problems’ because at Podengo they ‘recruit the right people … to ensure you get the results you need’.
Podengo have produced an online survey to help them identify ‘the right people’ to get paid for taking part in their project. The survey is split into three sections and respondents are asked to check one of 5 options for each statement to indicate how much they agree or disagree. The first statements (below) revolve around the participants feelings of belonging, influence of ‘strong leaders’ and equal opportunities.
It is in the second section (below) that the statements start to become more pointed, asking respondents if it is acceptable to use violence ‘for political or religious ends’, ‘to end a hostage situation’ or to ‘defend a nation from invasion’. The inclusion of these statements begs the question, what is this data going to be used for? In the event that 90% of young Muslims responded that violence is justified against foreign invaders, would this be used as an indication that Muslims are uncharacteristically violent? Or, perhaps the data could be used to argue that Muslims are not patriotic? Would the same judgements be made of Christians, Jews, Atheists or Hindus who responded in the same way?
The third section (below) raises similar concerns as it is unclear why it is relevant to ask Muslims in particular if they think that military interventions are justified or not.
I have spoken to Podengo and they cited “client confidentiality” for being unable to reveal who they are working for. They also offered their reassurance that this is one stage of a "multistage research project" that has "consulted other faith groups".
Hopefully the data produced from the survey will be used to draw intelligent and considered conclusions. However, given the history of surveys asking remarkably similar questions of British Muslims it is not surprising that a number of people have already contacted me via the website to raise concerns about this. We wait to see how the data is used.