CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
One of the most important components of this study is the collection and analysis of data gathered from participants. Data can be quantitative, qualitative or be collected and analysed through a mixed method approach. The mixed method framework involves the mixing of both the qualitative and the quantitative methods in a single study (Creswell et al., 2003). The present study focuses on qualitative data. Thus, this chapter presents qualitative research methodology.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND STRATEGY
There are three types of research designs or strategies, namely quantitative, qualitative and mixed method research strategies (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007; Creswell, 2009; Matthew and Ross, 2010; Hammond and Wellington, 2013). The researcher has chosen qualitative inquiry as the research design suitable for this type of study for a number of reasons.
Christensen (2011) identifies two characteristics of a qualitative research approach. Firstly, it is interpretive; qualitative data is made up of words, and other nonnumerical data. The main task of the researcher is to attempt to understand these data from the participants’ subjective perspective. A qualitative study focuses on meaning and interpretation (Liamputtong, 2009) because it implies “a concern for more inductive analysis, for exploring, explaining, uncovering phenomena and for generating new theoretical insights,” (Hammond and Wellington, 2013:107). Similarly, Creswell (2009) holds the view that qualitative inquiry is “a means of exploring and understanding the meaning individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem”. The phenomenon of address usage has not been explored in Xitsonga and therefore needs to be explored and understood. “An interpretivist research paradigm emphasises qualitative research methods, which are flexible, context sensitive and largely concerned with understanding complex issues,” (Carcary, 2009:11). Address usage is a complex social phenomenon whose choice is context dependent and therefore whose meaning must be interpreted.
On a similar note, Clarkson (1989) in Carcary (2009) posits that it is impossible to study people outside the context of their ongoing interactions with others or separate from their interconnectedness in the world out there. It is within this framework that Hammond and Wellington (2013:75) assert that an interpretivist framework is concerned with “the meaning of a phenomenon for those taking part and the consequences of their behaviour”. The central thesis of this view is that proper understanding of the world requires multiple interpretations. Research therefore is neither value-free nor does it exist as a single objective reality; there are multiple realities that must be accounted for. There are two types of realities: external and internal realities. The former refers to what occurs in the physical world and the latter pinpoints the subjective and unique reality to every individual (Carcary, 2009). In the present study, both realities must be accounted for.
Still, Walsh and Downe (2005) hold the view that an interpretivist approach seeks to uncover and communicate the meanings and interpretations that human beings apparently invest in social activities. Such meanings are a function of the circumstances in which the study takes place, the individuals involved in the research and the broad interrelationships in the situations that are being researched (Carcary, 2009). Thus, in order to arrive at the meanings of the address system in Xitsonga, the researcher will seek detailed description of the phenomenon by asking questions of the type ‘what?’, ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ of the interactions of the speakers within the chosen dyadic encounters (Walsh and Downe, 2005).
Apart from its inherently interpretive nature, the choice of qualitative research strategy is informed by the understanding that qualitative data are reliable. In addition to their capacity to be replicated (Tracy, 2013), the reliability of qualitative data lies in the fact that rather than presenting data from the point of view of the researcher, the world is documented from the perspective of the language speakers (Hammond and Wellington, 2013). It may well be that the understanding of people’s behaviour requires the understanding of the meanings and interpretations that they give to their behaviour. In fact, this ties in with the aim of qualitative research: to capture the lived experiences of the social world and the meanings that individuals give these experiences from their own viewpoints. Liamputtong (2009:xi) is more direct about this by writing as follows:
Because of its flexibility and fluidity, qualitative research is suited to understanding the meanings, interpretations, and subjective experiences of individuals. Qualitative inquiry allows the researchers to be able to hear the voices of those who are silenced, othered, and marginalized by the dominant social order, as qualitative methods ask not only “what is it?” but, more importantly, “explain it to me – how, why, what’s the process, what’s the significance?”. The in-depth nature of qualitative methods allows the researched to express their feelings and experiences in their own words.
Another characteristic of a qualitative inquiry as identified by Christensen et al. (2011) is that it is conducted in the field, that is, the person’s natural setting and surroundings. In the case of this study, the researcher will conduct the study in the villages and townships of Hlanganani where the participants reside. The study therefore involves multiple participants and multiple sites of data collection; a qualitative research approach relies on multiple types of subjective data (Ibid., 2011). Both the subjects and the sites of data collection in which the participants have been selected in terms of the criteria of age, gender, marital status, educational level and occupation have been triangulated (see Liamputtong, 2009). The selection of the subjects in terms of these variables is premised on the understanding that the sampled individuals are situated in different but similar social contexts in varying degrees.
The goal of source triangulation is to confirm and to illustrate common emerging and even divergent themes (patterns) from the participants. It is clear that qualitative research is essential for producing data from diverse individuals situated in particular contexts.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
Data can be defined as a collection of organised information or facts through experience, observation, experiment or similar situations external to the researcher (Yin, 2010). Matthews and Ross (2010:43) describe the role of data in research as follows:
Data stands in place of the social reality we wish to study. We cannot simply know a social phenomenon, but we can attempt to capture it as data which represent the reality we have experienced, observed, asked questions about or are trying to explain. As social beings we all gather and work with data every day as we take part in the social world through conversations, reading, observing and writing.
Methods of data collection refer to the more specific techniques used by the researcher to obtain the empirical data to be used in order to answer the research questions (Christensen et al., 2011) and to analyse the data within the research study (Creswell et al., 2003; Hammond and Wellington, 2013). This section is divided into data collection and data analysis.
In this subsection, the following are discussed: types of data, the data collection method, population, sampling and sample size.
(a) Types of data
Social researchers work with data. Data take the form of verbal data or language, spoken or written (Matthews and Ross, 2010). Language as data refers to the means by which people capture, reflect on and describe social reality. This research uses verbal data captured from the subjects. The following are characteristics of verbal data (Ibid., 2010):
- They are interactive and responsive to the other person;
- They are usually associated with being in the physical presence of the recipient of the spoken word;
- Usually both the speaker and the recipient are able to gauge the impact of the response to the spoken words; and
- They are supplemented by non-verbal communication which is visible to the recipient, including tone of voice.
Data can also be classified as primary or secondary data. Primary data are pieces of information that have to be collected for the first time and secondary data exist as information (Nkuna, 2010). Simply stated, primary data have been gathered by the researcher specifically for his own research; secondary data have been gathered by others for public consumption and can be used by other researchers (Matthews and Ross, 2010). This research relies on primary verbal data captured through data collection methods by the researcher of the present study.
(b) The collection method
A number of examples of research techniques or data collection methods within the interpretive tradition can be identified (Sarantakos, 1997; Locke et al., 2010; Hammond and Wellington, 2013). These are:
- Systematic observation and use of field notes
- Examination of documents
- Semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews
In their quest to explore address forms, previous research works have used a diversity of research methods. Brown and Gilman’s (1968) pioneering power-solidarity semantic work and Keshavarz’s (2001) quantitative study of Persian address used questionnaires. A number of researchers, however, felt that Brown and Gilman’s survey research sample was not representative of the speakers of the languages investigated. Thus Afful (2007) used both observation and interviews, Oyetade (1995) used direct observation of actual usage and informal interviews of participants supplemented by the writer’s own introspection as a native Yoruba speaker, while Dickey (1997) used both interviews and questionnaire-based interviews. Kretzenbacher et al. (2006) based their study of address forms of German on interviews. The present study will use semi-structured interviews as data collection methods.
A semi-structured interview as a data collection method is also known as in-depth interview (Marshal and Rossman, 2006; Matthews and Ross, 2010). The word interview literally means an ‘inter-view’, that is, “an exchange of views between two individuals who discuss a common interest,” (Liamputtong, 2009:45). Interviews are thus particular type of conversations between the researcher and those that are being researched, variously termed participants, subjects, participants, informants or interviewees (Matthews and Ross, 2010;
Hammond and Wellington, 2013). Kvale (2007) in Liamputtong (2009) defines interview as a specific form of conversation for the purpose of knowledge production through interactions between the interviewer and the interviewee.
An interview has also been variously referred to as a “conversation with an agenda,” (Day, 2007, in Liamputtong, 2009:43), “a conversation with a purpose,” (Marshall and Rossman, 2006:101) or “special conversation,” (Liamputtong, 2009:43) for three reasons. The first is that the participant is requested to answer the researcher’s questions. Secondly, an interview provides the researcher an opportunity to learn about the feelings of the participants, their experiences, and the world in which they live. Finally, the researcher is able to elicit rich information from the perspectives of the informants in their own words.
The aim of in-depth interview … is to explore the ‘insider perspective’. To capture, in the participants’ own words, their thoughts, perceptions, feelings and experiences. The process involves a meaning-making effort that starts out as a partnership between researcher and participant. It necessitates asking and listening actively (Liamputtong, 2009:43).
There are a number of strengths or advantages of a semi-structured interview (Marshall and Rossman, 2006; Liamputtong, 2009):
- It is a face-to-face and a one-on-one interaction between the researcher and the participant;
- It builds a kind of intimacy resulting in mutual self-disclosure;
- There is a greater depth of self-expression by the subject – the researcher respects how the participants frames and structures the responses;
- The participant’s perspective on the issue being explored unfolds as he or she views it (emit perspective) and not as the researcher views it (the etic perspective): it allows the researcher to see the world from the informant’s perspective;
- It seeks deep information and understanding from the subject;
- It requires the researcher to make sense of the multiple meanings and interpretations of the use of the phenomenon under investigation (the address system);
- It allows the researcher to delve into the ‘hidden perceptions’ of the participants;
- It enables the researcher to construct knowledge about the reality of the participants from the information obtained through the conversation;
- It allows for immediate probing, follow-up and clarification questions;
- It is valuable for accessing subjugated voices and obtaining subjugated knowledge from vulnerable and marginalised people such as women, uneducated people and the physically challenged; and
- When more than one participant is involved, it yields data in quantity: a wider variety of information from the participants.
In concurrence with Liamputtong (2009), Hammond and Wellington (2013:91) express the following views about the value of in-depth interviews:
The value of the interview is that it allows the researcher to probe an interviewee’s account of an event as well as their thoughts, values, feelings and perspectives more generally. Interviews ‘go deep’, allowing the researcher to see an event or context from the point of view of the people he or she is researching; interviews are interactive allowing for clarification of questions and identification of unexpected themes.
Semi-structured interviews will involve the acquisition of data on address usage in a face-to- face open-ended interaction with individual Xitsonga participants. The researcher will ask a standard set of questions with one or more individually tailored questions whose goal will be to seek clarity or to probe the respondent’s reasoning (Leedy and Ormrod, 2005). Bu according to Welling and Hammond (2013:93), the interview does not suggest the whole story of the respondent. The writers argue as follows:
The ‘story’ presented by the interviewee is one of many which he or she could tell with conviction. The interview is not, then, the ‘truth’ as seen by the interviewee, but a discourse about a topic, and in the telling of a story the interviewee is making sense of the story; in other words, the story changes in its telling.
Thus, having heard the story about address usage in Xitsonga from the informants chosen on the basis of the variables of age, gender, marital status, education background and occupation, the next task will be for the researcher to give meaning to it (the story of address choice). In so doing, it is important to be careful not to misrepresent the truth as interpreted from the data gathered from the participants.
In-depth interviews have limitations and weaknesses as well (Sarantakos, 1997; Marshall and Rossman, 2006) and these can be summarised as follows:
- In the personal interaction between the researcher and the participant during the interview, the former expects the latter to cooperate. The participants may refuse to do this;
- The participants may be unwilling or uncomfortable to share data required by the interviewer;
- The interview demands good listening skills and personal interaction skills, question framing and gentle probing for elaboration of responses from the interviewer;
- The volumes of data that can be obtained through interviewing may be time-consuming to analyse; and
- One-to-one interviews may be impoverished because the participant had not reflected on the topic and therefore feels unprepared to make a proper response.
Another limitation of semi-structured interviews is brought into the equation by the Observer’s Paradox. The Observer’s Paradox states that while the aim of linguistic research in the community is to find out how people talk when they are not being systematically observed, the problem is that data can only be obtained by systematically observing the participants (Tarone, 1979; Labov, 1997). When the participants know that they are being observed, their responses may no longer be as natural as they would be in a natural setting. This is mainly because the presence of the researcher and the issue presented to them for exploration may lead the participants to start paying more careful attention to their speech.
In order to off-set the impact of the Paradox, it is important for the researcher to do two things. In the first place, he will elicit narratives of personal experience about address behaviour from the participants. In the second place, whenever possible, the researcher will interview the participants in pairs or groups of three or four. During these pair or group discussions, there will be breaks whose sole purpose will be to put the participants at ease.
Population can be defined as the entire or full set of elements, data or group of people that are of interest to a researcher and from which a sample is selected (Beins, 2009; Christensen et al., 2011, Hammond and Wellington, 2013). In the case of this study, the population are all Xitsonga speaking people (excluding children) of Hlanganani from which the researcher will make a sample. The informants will be selected in terms of the variables of age, gender, level of schooling, marital status and occupation. It is assumed that the presumed commonalities and differences in the way people use the address system relates directly to differences in their age, gender, marital status, level of education and occupation.
Under sampling, three important issues become important. These are sampling frame, purpose sampling technique and sampling strategy.
The sampling frame
A sampling frame is a “list of all the members of a population from which a sample may be drawn,” (Mathews and Ross, 2010:162). In the context of the present study, the list of all Xitsonga speakers in Hlanganani is neither available nor desirable. The determining of socio-cultural rules, values, expectations and practices underlying address choice, and the determination of their impact on various interpersonal relationships is a qualitative research question requiring the selection of participants through purposive sampling as discussed below.
Purposive sampling technique
Purposive sampling is a non-probability based sample “associated with research designs that are based on the gathering of qualitative data and focuse[s] on the exploration and interpretation of experiences and perceptions,” (Matthews and Ross, 2010:167). In purposive or judgemental sampling, the researcher chooses subjects who, in his opinion, are relevant to the research topic. The most productive sample that will answer the research question is selected (Marshall, 1996). In other words, in the selection of the sample, the researcher’s judgement reigns supreme (Sarantakos, 1997). This view resonates with Liamputtong’s (2009:11), who writes:
Qualitative research relies heavily on purposive sampling strategies. These strategies are also termed qualitative, theoretical, non-probability, or judgment sampling. Purposive sampling refers to the deliberate selection of specific individuals, events, or settings because of the crucial information they can provide that cannot be obtained so well through other channels.
Thus, purposive sampling implies that “the researchers intentionally select participants who have experience with the central phenomenon or the key concept being explored,” (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007:112). The selected individuals are expected to yield the most or best information about the phenomenon under investigation, and in this case, forms of address (see Van der Merwe, 1996). The individuals purposefully selected for this study are Xitsonga speakers in terms of the criteria of age differences, gender diversity, marital status, differences in educational backgrounds and who are in different occupations. A case can be made that individuals obtained in this way are information-rich and thus will provide in-depth study, understanding and insights about the socio-cultural rules underlying address usage in Xitsonga.
CHAPTER 1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.2 Background to the study
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 Literature on names, titles and teknonyms as forms of address
2.3 Literature on the kinship system as a form of address
2.4 Literature on the pronominal and the honorific systems as forms of address
2.5 Literature on the relationship between forms of address and terms of reference
2.6 Literature on address avoidance as a form of address
CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 Research design and strategy
3.3 Data collection and analysis
3.4 Criteria for ensuring the rigour of the research
3.5 Ethical considerations
3.6 Research questions
3.7 Report writing
CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND FINDINGS
4.2 Responses from the informants
CHAPTER 5 ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
5.2 Address and reference between family members in Xitsonga
5.3 Address and reference to extended family members in Xitsonga
5.4 Address and reference to in-laws in Xitsonga
5.5 Address and reference in non-familial contexts in Xitsonga
5.6 Address forms used to familiar persons in Xitsonga
5.7 Education, wealth and social positions as factors influencing address inversion in Xitsonga
5.8 Addressing medical practitioners in the workplace in Xitsonga
5.9 Factors determining address choice in Xitsonga
CHAPTER 6 FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATION
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
ADDRESS FORMS IN XITSONGA: A SOCIO-PRAGMATIC PERSPECTIVE