CHAPTER 3 APPLICATION OF THE QUALITATIVE RESEARCH PROCESS
This chapter orientates the reader to the chosen research paradigm, and demonstrates that the entire study has coherence across the research purpose (Koch et al., 2014:133; Singh, 2015:133). Therefore, this chapter provides a detailed description and justification of the research methodology adopted to guide the study. Literature is used to provide a sound basis for the qualitative research methodology (Marshall & Rossman, 2016:7). The justification of the methodology flows from the research question, which links with the research goal including the research and task objectives.
Research methodology refers to the strategies, blueprint, set of decisions, and procedures that guide the choices researchers make in carrying out a study (Carter & Little, 2007:1317). It provides justification for the methods of a research project, and guides the research process to ensure that appropriate ways and means are followed. Research methodology is largely informed by the research question (Lapan et al., 2012:72).
In the next section, the researcher presents the qualitative research paradigm within which the study was conducted. A detailed justification and application of the research approach are included as well as a discussion on the application of the adopted research design, namely the phenomenological, explorative, descriptive, and contextual research. The presentation also addresses the research design with accompanying justification for selecting the sample, sampling methods, preparing participants for data collection, data-collection tools, pilot test, data analysis, and trustworthiness of the overall design.
Research approach This study was conducted within a qualitative paradigm. Although qualitative research has a rich history in the social sciences, it has often been criticised by quantitative researchers for not being sufficiently scientific (Singh, 2015:267). It is therefore mandatory to justify its scientific credentials (Hood, 2016:160). Qualitative research has developed an identity of its own by adopting diverse approaches, which seek to explore and understand human experiences, perceptions, and behaviour (Richards, 2009:148; Holland & Rees, 2010:71).
Participants in study were engaged in a meaningful manner to gain a holistic picture of their life experiences since qualitative research acknowledges that there is no single truth (Moule & Goodman, 2014:173). Furthermore the researcher approached the cohabitees in their natural setting, thus enabling them to describe and explain their experiences of being in cohabitating relationships (Gibbs, 2007, x; McLaughlin, 2007:36).
In certain instances, a qualitative approach is adopted when the research question does not clearly indicate the data required to provide an answer (Richards, 2005:34). This approach was deemed appropriate for this study as it allowed the researcher an opportunity to examine changes over time, understand people’s meanings, and adjusts to new issues and ideas as they emerged (McLaughlin, 2007:36). Participants were able to construct their social reality around their lived experiences in cohabiting relationships (Koch et al., 2014:132). A qualitative approach was further deemed appropriate for this study due to its ability to discover important aspects of cohabitation that would be easily overlooked and missed in a quantitative study (Schmidt & Brown, 2015:229).
Qualitative researchers are viewed as co-participants in discovering and understanding the realities of the phenomenon under study (Lavoie, MacDonald & Whitmore, 2005:299). As is the case in a traditional research approach, participants were considered subjects of the study who did not have any control over the research process. Nonetheless, the researcher involved them in data collection, and sought to build relationships and credibility with them. Throughout the interviews, the researcher was mindful of the principle of respecting the participants as experts of their own experiences (Mack, Woodsong, Macqueen, Guest & Namey, 2005:29
CHAPTER 1 GENERAL ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
1.2 Research question
1.3 Goal and objectives
1.4 Research approach
1.5 The place and role of theory in a qualitative study
1.6 Ethical considerations
1.7 Clarification of key concepts
1.8 Structure of the research report
CHAPTER 2 THEORETICAL INTERPRETATIONS OF COHABITATION
2.2 Commitment theory
2.3 Identity theory
2.4 Social learning theory
2.5 Self-determination theory
2.6 Family systems
2.7 Life course theory
2.8 Fishbein and Ajzen theory of reasoned action
2.9 Soulmate theory
2.10 Financial expectations and family formation theory
2.11 Interpersonal theory
2.12 Symbolic interactionist theory
CHAPTER 3 APPLICATION OF THE QUALITATIVE RESEARCH PROCESS
3.2 Research methodology
CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS ON CIRCUMSTANCES PRECEEDING COHABITATION OF THE PARTICIPANTS
4.2 Biographical profiles of the participants
4.3 Discussion of findings and literature control
CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS ON THE EXPERIENCES OF PARTICIPANTS SINCE COHABITATION
5.2 Theme 2: Participants’ reflections on their experiences of cohabiting relationships
CHAPTER 6 FINDINGS ON COHABITEES’ CONFLICT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES AND SUGGESTIONS FOR SOCIAL WORK INTERVENTION
6.1: The participants’ accounts of how they resolve challenges
6.2: Participants’ viewpoints on professional support by social workers as well as aspects to be addressed by social workers
CHAPTER 7 LESSONS FOR SOCIAL WORK INTERVENTION AND SUGGESTIONS FOR PRACTICE
7.2 Lessons drawn from the research findings
7.3 Suggestions for social work intervention
CHAPTER 8 SUMMARIES, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
8.2 Summary of the previous chapters
8.3 Conclusions based on the research process
8.4 Conclusions based on the research findings
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
Cohabitation in the context of changing family practices: Lessons for social work intervention