The current article reflects on the challenges of selecting and accessing participants from societies where power relations are gender-based. The paper discusses the methodological difficulties of gaining research access to professionally and educationally elite women in Pakistan's patriarchal society and suggests a strategy of "referral in-group" for recruiting interview participants. Drawing on the author's purposive sampling-based research in Pakistan, this article proposes a methodological strategy to recruit an elite population to participate in research interviews on a culturally sensitive subject, namely, patriarchal control over Pakistani women's digital lives. Furthermore, coupled with purposive sampling, this article contributes to the existing literature on elite interviewing and the growing literature on conducting research in challenging cultural environments, specifically for women.


purposive sampling, elite interviews, referral strategy, methodological challenges, patriarchal culture

Author Bio(s)

Amira Firdaus is an Associate Professor at Universiti Malaya’s Department of Media and Communication Studies, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. Amira's core expertise is Positive/Constructive Communication with practical and conceptual applications across three fields: Communication, Higher Education, and Positive Psychology. Please direct correspondence to amira_firdaus@um.edu.my.

Dr Iffat Ali Aksar (Corresponding Author) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism & Advertising. Her research interest includes Women and Social Media, Cultural Impacts on Online Practices and New Media Technology and Wellbeing. Please direct correspondence to iffatali.aksar@xmu.edu.my.

Dr Mohamoud Danaee is working as Adjunct Professor at the Universiti Malaya. His expertise includes experimental design, advanced statistical methods, and Research Methodology. Please direct correspondence to mdanaee@um.edu.my.

Jiankun Gong Ph.D. is a Scholar in the Department of Communication Studies at Universiti Malaya, Malaysia. His research interests include New Media Technology and Health Communication. Please direct correspondence to gongjiankun1992@gmail.com.

Nasrullah Dharejo is a Ph.D. Scholar in the Department of Communication Studies at Universiti Malaya, Malaysia and a Lecturer at IBA Sukkur, Pakistan. His research area includes new media effects and psychological Wellbeing. Please direct correspondence to nasrullah.dharejo@iba-suk.edu.pk.

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