1. Presentation of the fieldwork
Although one can’t consider Switzerland as a sort of small-scale replica of Western Europe, I have still decided to approach it as a triple market and to distinguish between respondents with respect to their regional and linguistic origin. However, I didn’t expect the collected answers to reflect exactly those from the survey carried out in the neighboring countries.
I have used the same questionnaire translated into 3 languages, first as a Word document, and then, after discovering by chance the online services provided by SurveyMonkey.com, I published it as an electronic form. I contacted potential respondents by posting on the forums of Swiss associations: Yume and Soleil-Romand in the French-speaking area, Mangaforum.org in the Swiss-German areas. On the other hand, I had lots of trouble finding volunteers from the Italian-speaking region, as there seems to be no manga-related associations, whether online or offline, from that part of the country. In the end, the solution came from Professor Ursula Ganz-Blättler, who teaches at the Universita de la Svizzera Italiana in Lugano and offered to email the address of my online questionnaire to her students and colleagues.
Thanks to SurveyMonkey.com, I was able to easily collect the answers sent by the respondents and to download them as Excel files. I was then able to work them out in order to extract the percentages per gender, socio-professional situation and regional origin for each question.
2. Presentation of the corpus
After a 6-months long collect in 2007, I obtained 76 completed questionnaires, of which 41 came from the Swiss-German region, 30 from the French-speaking region and 6 from the Swiss-Italians.
The median age is around 20 years, with the youngest respondent being 15 years old and the oldest, 31. This naturally introduces a bias in favor of those still in school, students and young people in training or just starting their professional life, who represent about 80% of the total population sampled. This also means that there are very few married couples and that a large majority of the respondents are bachelors, with only a few non-married couples. Obviously, this number grows as the respondents get older.
I have divided my corpus into 3 socio-professional categories as follow:
A- School attendants and students (university) aged 15-24.
B- Young people in training, just starting in their professional life or in transition between the end of school and training/university, aged 15-25.
C- Active people aged 25 and older.
The socio-professional profiles announced by respondents represented a wide panel of possibilities, making it real difficult to classify them. Nonetheless, most of them find themselves in a socio-economic situation that favours consumption. In general, one can say that they reflect the good economic health of the country.
3. Some of the difficulties encountered
Among the difficulties encountered was the language issue. I don’t master perfectly German, let alone the Swiss-German dialects in use even in online forums and if I can manage a conversation in Italian, I have no clue how to write it properly.
Then, I also had to take into account the fact that some questions were systematically misunderstood. For example, the one about the « number of owned mangas » was understood as asking for the « number of albums », when it was originally referring to the « number of series ». I only realized this at the end of the collecting process.
Or, in the section concerning the issue of the respondent’s reputation at the university or at work, several of them answered both questions, when it was actually clearly stated that they should answer only one: either you are still a student or you already have started your professional life. However, none of them understood it that way. Indeed, more than 15% of the Swiss students work 20-40 hours per week and about 50% work at least 10 hours per week besides their studies. They therefore consider that they have already started their professional life, although not yet full-time. To make things more complicated, some people following training in what are considered higher-education institutions (design/multimedia schools, business schools,…) also call themselves students, even though they are not at university strictly speaking. Moreover, some respondents already well into their careers but having gone through university decided to share their experience in both settings.