This chapter mainly focuses on the research methodology in detail. De Vos et al (2005) define research methodology as a description of the specific techniques to be applied, the specific measuring instrument to be used and the specific series of activities to be conducted in making the measurement. Presented in this chapter is the nature of the study, research design, population and location of the study, sampling procedure, data collection method and instrument, data analysis, limitations of the study and ethical considerations.
3.2 Nature of the study
The study is qualitative in nature as the researcher have gathered in depth information in order to understand the effects of gangsterism on teenagers. Qualitative research focuses on how individuals and groups view and understand the world and contrast meaning out of their experiences. According to Maree (2007) qualitative research typically studies people or systems by interacting with and observing the participants in their natural environment. It focuses on the participant’s meanings and interpretations, and its emphasis is on the quality and depth of information and not on the scope or breath of the information provided.
3.3 Research design
According to Mouton (1996) research design can be defined as a set of guidelines and instruments to be followed in addressing the research problem. He added that the main function of the research design is to enable the researcher to anticipate what the appropriate research decisions should be so as to increase the validity of eventual results of the research. Explorative design was used to collect data in this study. Babie and Mouton (2001) defined exploratory research as a social research that explores a certain phenomenon with the primary aim of formulating more detailed research questions relating to that phenomenon.
3.4 Population and location of the study
Mouton (1996) defines population as a collection of objects, events, or individuals who share a common characteristic that the researcher is interested in studying. The study population consisted of 6 teenage boys who are involved in gangsterism as they are the primary focus of the study, 2 parents, as well as 2 teachers from the schools that which the gangsters attend. The researcher believed that the 10 participants would provide relevant information for the study.
The study was conducted at Langeloop village, Nkomazi district, Mpumalanga province in South Africa.
3.5 Sampling procedure
According to De Vos (2005) sampling can be defined as a process of taking a small group of people from a larger group and be used to represent the larger group. The researcher made use of purposive sampling. It is also known as judgement sampling.
Purposive sampling is a non-probability sampling technique. It can be defined as the process whereby the researcher selects a sample based on experience or knowledge of the group to be sampled. The main goal of purposive sampling is to focus on characteristics of a population that will enable the research participants to answer all the research questions. The researcher selected participants based on the criteria that he/she has set. This type of sampling can only be used when you are confident enough about the representation of the whole population.
3.6 Data collection and instrument
De Vos (2005) stated that data collection methods are procedures specifying techniques to be applied, measuring instruments to be used and activities to take place in implementing a research study. Data collection is the process of gathering and measuring information on variable of interest in an established systematic fashion that allows one to answer the stated research question, and evaluate the outcomes. The goal of data collection is to acquire quality evidence that will translate to rich data analysis.
The researcher has used a semi structured interview as a data collecting tool. A semi structured interview is a method of inquiry that combines a pre-determined set of open questions, questions that prompt discussion with the purpose of the interviewer to explore particular themes or response further. A semi structured interview is used to get a clear picture of the participant’s beliefs and perceptions about a particular topic. It allows for flexibility for both the researcher and the respondent. The interview has enabled the researcher to gain more clarity on the information that was received from the participant during the interview.
The researcher prepared the research questions on an interview schedule. The interview schedule was used to guide the researcher on what type of questions could be asked during the interview. The advantage of semi structured interview is that it enables the researcher to gather more information from the stories that the participants may tell during the interview.
3.7 Data analysis
According to John (1961) data analysis is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modelling data with the goal to discover useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision making. Data analysis is treated as science and art, and that is because it allows a researcher to use creative, ambiguous and fascinating processes. In this study, the researcher used thematic content analysis to analyze the data from the interviews.
Maree (2007:100) suggested that thematic content analysis is one of the most common forms of analysis in qualitative research. It emphasizes pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns or themes within data. Themes are patterns across data sets that are important to the description of a phenomenon and are associated to a specific research question. The themes become the categories for analysis. Thematic content analysis is performed through the process of coding in six phases to create established, meaningful patterns. These phases are: familiarization with data, generating initial codes, searching for themes among codes, reviewing themes, defining and naming themes, and producing the final report.
3.8 Ethical consideration
According to Bless (2006:140) ethics are set of more principles which are suggested by an individual or group and is subsequently widely accepted. Since research often involves a great deal of cooperation and coordination among different people, ethical standards promote the values that are important for collaborative work, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect and fairness. This study is guided by the following ethics: informed consent, confidentiality, avoidance of harm and to avoid deception of participants.
3.8.1 Informed consent
According to Grinnell & Unaru (2008:37) informed consent means that the researcher must respect the participants, and they were given the opportunity to choose what shall happen to them since the topic may be sensitive to the respondents. The researcher has informed the participants in a clear language what they were going to be asked to do. The researcher also informed the participants about the risks, and benefits of their participation in the study. The participants were also informed about their rights as participants and also how their information will be used.
The researcher has informed the participants about the nature of the study so that they get a clear understanding of what the study entails. This is considered as the best method of social research. Informed consent implies that all possible information on the goal of the study, the expected time frame for participants’ involvement, and procedures which will be followed during the investigation, possible advantages, disadvantages and dangers to which the participants could be exposed as well as the credibility (Grinnell ; Unaru, 2008:37).
According to Babbie (2007: 27) confidentiality means handling of information in a confidential manner. Which refer to agreement between the researcher and the respondent that limit others access to private information. He added that the researcher will inform the participants that should their identity would be anonymous, and the materials or information discussed during the collection of data for the study will be in a confidential manner.
The researcher ensured that the participants are informed about the purpose of the research, expected duration and procedures, their right to decline to participate and withdraw from the research once participation had begun , the foreseeable consequences of declining or withdrawing , reasonably foreseeable factors that may be expected to influence their willingness to participate such as potential risk, discomfort or adverse effects, any prospective research benefits, limits of confidentiality , incentive for participation and whom to contact for question about the research and research participants rights (Grinnell ; Unaru, 2008:37). Informed consent provides opportunity for the prospective participants to ask questions and receive answers. Since the topic entails much on the factors that lead teenagers into joining gangs, the information was confidential.
3.8.3 Avoidance of harm
According to Bless (2006:140) in the context of research ethics, harm may be broadly defined to include extreme physical pain or death, but also involve such factors as psychological stress, personal embarrassment or humiliation or myriad influence that may adversely affect the participants in a significant way. The researcher avoided asking questions that will make the participants to feel uncomfortable.
The fundamental ethical rule of social research was that the study must not bring any harm to the participants (Babbie 2007:27); the researcher weighed the risks against the importance and possible benefits of the specific research project. The researcher had an ethical obligation to project participants within all possible reasonable limits from any form of physical discomfort that they may emerge from harm is a key consideration in any research undertaken.
Such information offered the respondents the opportunity to withdraw from the investigation if they had wished to (Babbie, 2007:27). The researcher identified respondents who could possibly prove vulnerability during the investigation in order to t eliminate them from the study beforehand. Respondent were given assurance that they are indemnified against any emotional harm. The researcher also ensured that the respondents were free from harm, including verbal and nonverbal harm.
3.8.4 Voluntary participation
Voluntariness in consent ensure each participants ability to exercise the power of free choice without the intervention of force, fraud, deceit, duress or other forms of coercion. Participant should always be voluntary, and no one should be forced to participate in a project (Rubin ; Babbie 2005:71). The participants were told that their participation is voluntary.
Voluntary participant meant that the participants were allowed to volunteer by themselves and were not forced to participate. The researcher informed participants that they had rights to choose to be in the study and can withdraw from the study at any time during research. Since the topic was too personal, the researcher did not push or force the participant to engage in the research, they were doing it from their own will.
3.8.5 Violation of privacy
Privacy is one of the most important aspects with regards to ethics. The right of an individual to control distribution of personal information, as a rule of thumb, researchers should invade the privacy of participants as minimally as possible (Babbie, 2001). The respondents have the right to privacy and it is his or her rights to decide when, where, to whom and to what extent his or her attitudes, beliefs and behavior will be revealed. The researcher made sure that the participants knew their information of experiences would be used as research results. And except in the study, data will be kept in secret (McBunny, 2001:60).
3.8.6 Debriefing of participants
Debriefing sessions are during which subject get the opportunity, after the study, to work through their experience and its aftermath and where they can have their questions answered and misconceptions removed (Mcburney, 2001: 60). Through debriefing, problems generated by the research experience can be corrected (Babbie, 2001: 475). A research project must always be a learning experience for both participant and researchers. Debriefing sessions are the idea to complete the misperceptions that have risen in the minds of participants of the project.
This chapter was focused on the research methodology. The study is qualitative in nature. Field study was used as a research design. The researcher made use of purposive sampling which is a subtype of non-probability sampling to determine the participants of the study. The researcher also conducted face to face interviews to collect data from the participants. Ethics considered during the data collection process are also presented in this chapter.