CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Research develops in you a way of thinking that is logical and rational and that encourages you to critically examine every aspect of your day-to-day situation. It helps you to understand and formulate guiding principles that govern a particular procedure in your practice … This way of thinking develops in you a very different perspective to your work. Research develops this analytical way of thinking in you, and the knowledge of research methodology provides you with the techniques to find answers to your research questions.
(Kumar, 2014: 2)
This chapter sets out to present the methodology employed in this study. The preceding discussion on the constellation of intricacies that make up human trafficking served as impetus for the philosophical position and methodological decisions embraced by the researcher as he pursued novel perspectives on the investigation of human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The postmodern philosophical worldview and social constructionism, which allow for the appreciation of a complexity of views, meanings and experiences of participants, are discussed. This is followed by an explication of the qualitative research design along with the phenomenological rationale, which positions lived experiences of participants at the centre of the study. The chapter is concluded with an elucidation of ethical considerations and the strategies employed to ensure the accuracy of the research.
Fouche and Schurink (2011: 308-309) state that the development and transformation of the research topic into a research design by qualitative researchers will be contingent upon their assumption of how reality should be viewed. Creswell (2009: 5) refers here to an intersection of philosophy, strategies of inquiry and specific methods. He suggests that individuals preparing a research proposal or plan make explicit the larger philosophical ideas they adopt as this will motivate why a specific approach to the research was selected. Numerous terms have been used by authors to describe the general theoretical assumptions, laws and techniques adopted by researchers. Two of the most widely used concepts are ‘ontology’ and ‘epistemology’. ‘Ontology’ refers to the assumption held by the researcher regarding the ‘nature of truth’ whilst ‘epistemology’ refers to ‘what it means to know’ (Willis, 2007: 8).
Creswell (2009: 6) prefers to use the term ‘worldview’ in an all-encompassing manner when referring to ontologies, epistemologies, paradigms and broadly conceived research methodologies. A paradigm or worldview is “a way of thinking about and making sense of the complexities of the real world” (Patton, 2002: 69) and is defined by Creswell (2009: 6) as the general positioning about the world and the nature of the research embraced by the researcher. Four different worldviews discussed by Creswell (2009: 6) are post-positivism, constructivism, advocacy/participatory and pragmatism. The researcher adopted the constructivism worldview due to the nature of the research.
Constructivism is described by Hare-Mustin and Marecek (1988: 455) as a ‘postmodern movement’ and is alluded to by Sherman (2000: 52) as a postmodern philosophical school of thought. The nexus between postmodernism and constructivism is also confirmed by Fouche and Schurink (2011: 311), who position both in the same ontological and epistemological paradigm. Ontologically, postmodernism and constructivism ascribe to the idea that there is no real world or truth out there and that reality can only be known by those who experience it personally. On an epistemological level, postmodernism and constructivism hold the position that those who are personally experiencing the real world construct knowledge through a process of self-conscious action.
The philosophical worldview embraced in this study served to address the specific research problem under investigation. It was considered by the researcher as the most appropriate for understanding the multilayered realities of complex human beings who investigate a complex social problem in an increasingly pluralistic society. Postmodernism and constructivism will now be discussed.
The study of human social life as the subject matter of the social sciences presents some challenges, which include its fluidity, the challenges presented in observing it and the inherent difficulty of measuring it precisely with laboratory instruments. In response to these challenges, social scientists have explored different avenues of approach to human phenomena as scientific subject matter. Gradually a few approaches have emerged, one of which is the postmodern approach (De Vos, Strydom, Schulze & Patel, 2011: 5). Connor (2004: 5) states that the questions raised by postmodernism were always questions of value whilst Rosenau (1992: ix) argues that postmodernism takes on issues that are fundamental for the future of social science. It questions causality, determinism, egalitarianism, humanism, liberal democracy, necessity, objectivity, rationality, responsibility and truth (Rosenau, 1992: ix). Various authors (e.g. Sim, 2005: vii; Cahoone, 2003: 1; Cilliers, 1998: 113) concur that an unequivocal or clear explanation of the term ‘postmodern’ is nonexistent and that the term is even ‘impossible’ to define (Cilliers, 1998: 113).
There are a number of misguided reactions as to what postmodernism connotes or represents (Cahoone, 2003: 1). These reactions to postmodernism are based on the different understandings of the word’s meaning (Cilliers, 1998: viii). Sim (2005: viii) states that the first recorded use of the word ‘postmodern’ dates back to the 1870s and refers to a historical account of its use by the English painter John Watkins Chapman, who suggested that any art that transcends Impressionism, “the revolutionary new art style of the period”, would be definable as ‘postmodern painting’. Other historical references to postmodernism include the use of the term ‘postmodern’ in 1917 by the German philosopher Rudolf Pannwitz as distinguishing the contemporary scene from the modern with reference to a new form of militaristic and anti-humanist culture that was developing in war-torn Europe. In the 1920s and 1930s, the term was used by American theologian Bernard Iddings Bell, who viewed a postmodernist as someone who turned his back on the secular modern world and returned to religion (Sim, 2005: viii; Cahoone, 2003: 2). Sim (2005: viii) highlights that the use of the term by historian Arnold Toynbee shed light on an era of postmodernism when, in A Study of History, he wrote of the period from 1875 onwards as the ‘post-Modern Age of Western history’. The postmodern world, an age marked by cultural decline as evidenced in its two ‘world’ wars, was a less safe and welcoming place to live in than the modern world (1475–1875) it had replaced (Sim, 2005: viii).
Hicks (2004: 7) posits that the term ‘post-modern’ situates a historic and philosophical movement against modernism whilst Sim (2005: viii) concurs with this view and adds that it was only in the latter half of the 20th Century that it took on the precise meaning of a reaction against modernism and modernity. Babbie and Mouton (2001: 44) ascribe the origin of current debates between postmodernists and modernists in social theory to the influential Lyotard critique of modernism. Jean-Francois Lyotard (1926–98) was a professor of philosophy and published the most renowned philosophical formulation of postmodernism in 1979, entitled La Condition Postmoderne: raport sur le savoir (English translation: The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, 1984). ‘Postmodernism’ is defined by Lyotard (1984: 260) as “incredulity toward metanarratives”, grand stories about the world and the place of inquiry in it. Lyotard (1984: 259) argues that in a postmodern era social ‘language games’ no longer need metanarratives to justify the utterances made in them and that the modernist notions of justification, system, proof and the unity of science no longer hold.
In harmony with Lyotard (1984: 260), Rosenau (1992: 10) posits that postmodernism in the social sciences is, at least partially, a response to the perceived shortcomings of scientific social science. Similarly, Babbie and Mouton (2001: 44-45) state that postmodernists reject all appeals to metanarratives and commemorate the local, specific and different whilst they accept the nexus between inquiry and power as certain. These authors continue by highlighting that the critique of modernist social sciences is rooted in its rejection of two key tenets: the promise of a universal and objective positive science and its promise of an emancipatory science. Postmodern social theory rather supports the search for concrete, context-specific and historically situated narratives that are not divorced from the social and political interests of concrete people (Babbie & Mouton, 2001: 45). Rosenau (1992: 8) contextualises the role of postmodernists in the ‘social science enterprise’ by juxtaposing it with those of modernist orientation:
“Post-modernists rearrange the whole social science enterprise. Those of a modern conviction seek to isolate elements, specify relationships, and formulate a synthesis; post-modernists do the opposite. They offer indeterminacy rather than determinism, diversity rather than unity, difference rather than synthesis, complexity rather than simplification. They look to the unique rather than to the general, to inter textual relations rather than causality, and to the unrepeatable rather than the re-occurring, the habitual, or the routine. Within a post-modern perspective social science becomes a more subjective and humble enterprise as truth gives way to tentativeness. Confidence in emotion replaces efforts at impartial observation. Relativism is preferred to objectivity, fragmentation to totalization. Attempts to apply the model of natural science inquiry in the social sciences are rejected because post-modernists consider such methods to be part of the larger techno-scientific corrupting cultural imperative.”
The researcher’s view of postmodernism is founded in the notion of eccentricity, which challenges the traditional lens of viewing phenomena. Postmodern thought has increased relevance in a globalised world characterised by fluidity, change and unpredictability, and is considered by the researcher as a catalyst that enables a paradigm shift from rigid and conventional thinking to a holistic approach in the study of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Sensitivity to complexity (Cilliers, 1998: 113; Rosenau, 1992: 8) is one of the important characteristics of postmodernism that holds significance for this study. The increasingly complex nature of criminal investigation (Osterburg & Ward, 2010: 5; Stelfox, 2009: 1-2), the inherent complexities of investigating human trafficking for sexual exploitation (Centre for Social Justice, 2013; Verhoeven & Van Gestel, 2011: 149-150) and organised crime (Bjelopera & Finklea, 2011: 1), and the multilayered complexities intrinsic to human trafficking make postmodern thought not only a viable ontological position but a necessary one that has not yet been explored in the conventional notion of ‘investigating’ the crime.
In addressing the research problem, the researcher also explored the value of complex systems theory, which fits within the postmodern paradigm, in an attempt to understand the lived experiences of participants with the investigation of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The researcher therefore heeded the advice of Cilliers (1998: 112), who argues:
“Whether or not we are happy with calling the times we live in ‘postmodern’, there is no denying that the world we live in is complex and that we have to confront this complexity if we are to survive, and, perhaps, even prosper.”
Cilliers (1998: 113) continues by postulating that “the postmodern approach is inherently sensitive to complexity, that it acknowledges the importance of self-organisation whilst denying a conventional theory of representation”. Complex systems theory, discussed in Chapter 5, is therefore attuned to the postmodern paradigm as both approaches endeavour to understand complex phenomena by diverging from the analytical and reductionist approach.
The term ‘social constructionism’ is used as the operational concept in this research. The terms ‘constructivism’ and ‘social constructionism’ are often used interchangeably under the preferred generic term ‘constructivism’ (Andrews, 2012: 39). Young and Collin (2004: 375) similarly refer to the idiosyncratic use of terms like ‘constructivism’, ‘constructionism’, ‘constructive’, ‘constructivist’ and ‘social constructionism’. However, the authors underscore that constructivism focusses on meaning making and the constructing of the social and psychological worlds through individual, cognitive processes whilst social constructionism emphasises that the social and psychological worlds are made real (constructed) through social processes and interaction. ‘Constructivism’ and ‘social constructivism’ are similarly used in an interchangeable fashion by Creswell (2009: 6-9). Nevertheless, Creswell (2009: 8) concurs with the view of Young and Collin (2004: 375) regarding the focus of constructivism on the individual and that of social constructivism on the individual’s social interaction with others or ‘processes’ of interactions among individuals (Creswell, 2013: 25). The focus of this research on both individuals and their relationship with other stakeholders in the multidisciplinary investigation of human trafficking for sexual exploitation means that the term ‘social constructionism’ is used as an all-encompassing term. Willig (2008: 7) postulates that social constructionism has, in recent years, become an increasingly influential approach that draws attention to the fact that human experience, including perception, is mediated historically, culturally and linguistically. This means that the perceptions and experience of people should be understood as a specific reading of their environmental conditions and not as a direct reflection of these conditions.
Young and Collin (2004: 377) highlight that a range of views is covered by social constructionism, from acknowledging how social factors influence interpretations to perceiving how the social world is constructed by social processes and relational practices. Social constructionism is concerned with how knowledge is constructed and understood and places great emphasis on everyday interaction between people and how they use language to construct their reality (Andrews, 2012: 44). Language is also underscored by Willig (2008: 7) as an important aspect of socially constructed knowledge. The same phenomenon and event can be described in different ways. Consequently, while such a phenomenon or event is perceived or understood in different ways, none of the ways of describing it is necessarily wrong. Willig (2008: 7) offers an example in the choice of describing a glass of water as ‘half-full’ or ‘half-empty’. Both descriptions are equally accurate, yet one of them provides a positive interpretation of the situation (‘half-full’), whereas the other emphasises absence and a lack (‘half-empty’).
Subjective meanings that individuals develop from their experiences are varied and multiple, which lead social constructionists to identify the complexity of views rather than narrowing meanings into a few categories or ideas (Creswell, 2009: 8). Creswell (2009: 8) furthermore highlights that it is a researcher’s intent to make sense of the meanings others have about the world. He states that, rather than starting with a theory, inquirers generate or inductively develop a theory or pattern of meaning.
Willig (2008: 7) provides a summary of the research perspective of social constructionists and posits that it is concerned with identifying the various ways of constructing social reality that are available in a culture, to explore the conditions of their use, and to trace their implications for human experience and social practice. Creswell (2013: 25) highlights that phenomenological studies are amongst those in which the constructivist worldview is manifest.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 COMPLEXITY AND EXISTING KNOWLEDGE APERTURES
1.3 TOWARDS MEANING-MAKING, NOVEL PERSPECTIVES AND PROPOSITIONS
1.4 RESEARCH AIM AND OBJECTIVES
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTION AND SUB-QUESTIONS
1.6 REFLEXIVE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.7 KEY CONCEPTS
1.8 CHAPTER LAYOUT
CHAPTER 2 FROM GLOBAL TO LOCAL: SOUTH AFRICA’S HUMAN TRAFFICKING ECOLOGY IN THE GLOBAL THEATRE
2.1 INTRODUCTION .
2.2 HUMAN TRAFFICKING: A GLOBAL OVERVIEW
2.3 SLAVERY, OPPRESSION AND TRAFFICKING IN SOUTH AFRICA: A BRIEF HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
2.4 SOUTH AFRICA: THE CONTEXTUAL LANDSCAPE
2.5 FROM PALERMO TO THE PREVENTION AND COMBATING OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ACT 7 OF 2013
2.6 SOUTH AFRICA’S POST-PALERMO NARRATIVE
CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 PHILOSOPHICAL WORLDVIEW ..
3.3 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.4 THE ETHICAL DIMENSION OF THE STUDY
3.5 ACCURACY OF THE RESEARCH
CHAPTER 4 ‘LIVED EXPERIENCES’: INVESTIGATING HUMAN TRAFFICKING FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
4.2 INTRODUCING THE PARTICIPANTS
4.3 LIVED EXPERIENCES OF PARTICIPANTS
CHAPTER 5 COMPLEX SYSTEMS THEORY: MEANING-MAKING, NOVEL PERSPECTIVES AND PROPOSITIONS
5.2 THE TCS, THE SCOREBOARD AND THE ‘BATTLE OF WITS’
5.3 COMPLEXITY AND THE ‘VUCA’ WORLD
5.4 COMPLEXITY, CRIME AND LAW ENFORCEMENT
5.5 THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THEORY IN RESEARCH
5.7 COMPLEXITY THEORY
5.8 COMPLEX SYSTEMS THEMES
5.9 THE FRUITS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS THEORY
5.10 LIMITATIONS OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS THEORY
CHAPTER 6 EMBRACING COMPLEXITY: APPLICATION, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION
6.3 THE ESSENCE OF PARTICIPANTS’ LIVED EXPERIENCES
6.4 INVESTIGATING HUMAN TRAFFICKING FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: A COMPLEX SYSTEMS APPLICATION
6.5 RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESEARCH DIRECTIVES
LIST OF REFERENCES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
INVESTIGATING HUMAN TRAFFICKING FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: FROM ‘LIVED EXPERIENCES’ TOWARDS A COMPLEX SYSTEMS UNDERSTANDING