“What Would You Do If You Were to Win the Lottery?” A Qualitative Tool for Overcoming Agency-Structure Issues in Migration Research





Acquiescent Immobility, Semi-Structured Interviews, Hypothetical Questions, Fieldwork, Life Aspirations, Migration Aspirations, Internal Migration, Rural Sociology


This paper proposes a quasi-standardized hypothetical interview-guide question and demonstrates its applicability in addressing participants’ general life aspirations, and, in particular, the embedded migration aspirations. The proposed interview question is related to the hypothesized behavior of participants in the off chance of having won the national lottery. Based on fieldwork results, conducted in rural Hungary between 2014-2019, the paper demonstrates how this question, introduced as a closing question during interviews, may be useful in addressing cultural values and attitudes in an agency-oriented way and with a reduction of perceived structural constraints affecting them. The question was eligible in differentiating between forms of geographical mobility, reflecting some migration-related phenomena that were formerly claimed challenging to be specifically addressed, revealing that pro-migration structural constraints might mask general attitudes to stay among those seemingly opting for emigration, and conversely, structural, restraining-constraints that, in some cases, mask pro-migration attitudes among those seemingly aspiring to stay.


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Author Biography

Gergely Horzsa

Gergely Horzsa is a junior research fellow at the Center for Social Sciences, Budapest. His field of interest includes questions of rural sociology, development, entrepreneurship, and mobilities. For a decade, he led sociological fieldwork to a dozen localities within Hungary, leading to the successful defense of his dissertation in 2021, as well as to an ever-growing understanding of local societies. Besides his interest in qualitative methodologies, he also participates in community development in practice, and further, as the owner of a newly-formed Hungarian survey enterprise, he also engages in reforming how quantitative methodologies deal with respondents, hopefully leading to data with higher scientific validity.


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How to Cite

Horzsa, G. (2023). “What Would You Do If You Were to Win the Lottery?” A Qualitative Tool for Overcoming Agency-Structure Issues in Migration Research. Qualitative Sociology Review, 19(2), 92–112. https://doi.org/10.18778/1733-8077.19.2.05