Observation and its objective

Observation and its objective

STAGE 1:OBSERVATION AND ITS OBJECTIVES

It is well known that in Mauritius the SU is much linked to political parties. Hence, observation was carried out during the campaign of the Students' Union (SU) Elections at the UoM. Both the campaign and the observation lasted for 2 weeks (started on 19th October 2009 and ended on the 30th October 2009). The observation was an opportunity to observe everything that could be seen, heard and felt which provided an overview of the relationship between youth and politics.

PLANNING THE OBSERVATION

A. Type of Observation

TYPE OF OBSERVATION

WHAT WERE UNDER OBSERVATION

OBJECTIVE/S

Unstructured

Everything that could be seen, heard and felt.

It was important to grasp maximum information about how youth conduct their political activities since there is no published secondary data about this in Mauritius. Moreover, much information might have been missed since I could not be everywhere on campus at the same time for observation. On this ground, I had to seize the opportunity to observe everything that I could.

B. Instruments Used For Observation

INSTRUMENTS USED

PURPOSE/S

Diary

To write fresh, valid, reliable and vivid data which were seen, heard and felt on the spot.

Camera

Photographs were taken in case particular aspects of the campaign went unnoticed during the observation. Hence they could be re-analysed in the photographs. However, for ethical reasons the photographs were taken from quite afar so that the people are not totally visible.

Myself - Human Intrument

Since the senses have to be used in observation and the researcher exerts some sort of power over the other instruments he/she is using, the latter becomes the main instrument in the observation process.

STAGE 2: INTERVIEWS AND ITS OBJECTIVES

It is to be noted that interviewees did not find the need to remain anonymous.

INTERVIEWEES

OBJECTIVES

1

Soobeersingh Dhunoo alias Kenny (male) - ex student at the UoM and ex president of the SU (present during the SU Election Campaign and thus was interviewed).

In order, not to be gender biased, a boy and a girl were determinedly selected and at the same time a gender comparison of youth's political engagement could be made since gender is the only relevant variable between them in this particular setting. Unstructured interview was used for both respondents since the objectives were the same as those of the observation being carried out.

2

Khirtee Ruchpaul (female) -candidate at the SU Elections (interviewed during the SU Election campaign).

3

Naveena Ramyad (female) - former member in the MMM Youth Wing and potential candidate of the MMM party for General Elections 2010.

Since the MMM party does not have any archives information, Naveena acted like a ‘key informant'. It was also an opportunity to ask her about her transition from the Youth Wing to the Party itself. A semi-structured interview was found to be most convenient.

4

Devanand Ritoo - the current Minister of Youth and Sports.

Structured questions were prepared and he was interviewed in his capacity as:

1. An senior politician,

2. The current president of the Youth Wing of Mauritian Labour Party,

3. The current Minister of Youth and Sports.

PLANNING THE INTERVIEWS

The interviewees were the ones to decide about the place, time and day on which the interview would take place. Face-to-face interviews were carried out and a tape recorder was used to record everything with the permission of the interviewee. The use of tape recorder enabled me to maintain the eye contact with my interviewees and much attention could be given to their expressions, body languages and tones. Hence face validity could be checked out on the spot.

Although all the interviewees could speak English, interviews were conducted in Creole which is the mother tongue of mostly all Mauritians. This was done with the purpose of allowing interviewees to be more at ease so that they could provide more information. Once questions were asked, interviewees were given the opportunity to talk as much as they wished without being interrupted by me. My role as an interviewer was only to ask questions. It was not like a sort of conversation. In this way, value-free information could be gathered.

However, no research is without lacuna, mine being no exception. The lacunas are:

It was quite difficult to carry out such an observation (where the researcher is the main instrument) during 2 weeks on a big scale. Many things should have gone unnoticed, unheard and unfelt not only in my absence but in my presence as well. Moreover, many of the research questions have remained unanswered. I could picture the extent of engagement and disengagement of youth but I did not get the explanation what is/ are causing this political disengagement through the observation method. Key informants were those engaged in politics in some way or another but why the other youngsters are disengaged from politics remains a research question among so many. This led me to the stage 3 where the questionnaire came into use.

STAGE 3: QUESTIONNAIRE METHOD AND ITS OBJECTIVES

Concepts / hypotheses were developed into indicators through questions and statements in the form of questionnaire to test why there is this ‘disengagement' of youth from politics. At the same time, some questions related to the qualitative part of the research conducted were set to translate the information from subjective to objective, cross check the findings and make it generalisable. As according to Bryman (2004), the main advantage of triangulation is that it increases confidence in research findings.

For some concepts, multiple indicators were used (multiple measure of a concept) - A better explanation of this is given in the next chapter. A copy of the questionnaire distributed to respondents can be scrutinized in APPENDIX 6.

THE TYPES OF QUESTION USED

Since each question/ statement set serves a purpose, the type of question found to be most suitable was attributed to each. Finally, I end up with the use of the following types of questions:

OPEN-ENDED QUESTION

CLOSED-ENDED QUESTION

Likert-type

Dichotomous

Partially closed question

Multiple choice

Ranking

THE VARIABLES OF THE RESEARCH

Only concepts which are relevant to the topic are used as variables. Thus ‘gender' was used as variable for all questions while the ‘ethnic origin' was used as variable only for question 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 (c), 7 (d).These variables are independent and discrete in nature. The extent of youth's engagement/disengagement in/from politics is the dependent variable considered and this variable is also continuous in nature.

The survey does not intend to compare younger and mature youth's political engagement or disengagement since youth (as from 18 years old) as one body is absent in the Mauritian parliament. Hence youth is used as a constant as per the definition of National Youth Policy which has already been established in the previous literature.

DECIDING ABOUT SAMPLE AND SAMPLING METHODS:

A. What does this Sample Frame represent?

Only students of the University of Mauritius were chosen to be included in the sample. The reasons for this were that:

→ All the students are above 18 years old and hence have the voting right as well as the right to stand as candidates for the General Elections.

→ The students also come from all over the island and thus the sample englobes the subgroups as per the National Youth Policy “residence, religion, community, socio-cultural and educational backgrounds” but this should not be confused with the variable being used.

→ Since the students of UoM were observed during the campaign of the SU Elections, it was found most convenient to make them the sample, test the hypotheses on them and make generalizations.

The sampling frame was defined in terms of the 5 faculties of the UoM. To strike the balance of students in the 5 faculties, equal number of boys and equal number of girls were asked to fill in questionnaires in each faculty.

B. Sample Size

The sample size set for the survey was as follows:

MALE

FEMALE

FOE

35

35

AGRICULTURE

35

35

FSSH

35

35

FLM

35

35

SCIENCE

35

35

TOTAL

175

175

350

Since some questionnaires were rejected due to inadequate filling by respondents, the sample size is reduced to the following:

FACULTY OF

MALE

FEMALE

ENGINEERING

31

34

AGRICULTURE

35

33

SOCIAL STUDIES & HUMANITIES

33

35

LAW & MANAGEMENT

35

34

SCIENCE

34

35

TOTAL

168

171

339

Hence the sample size considered for the purpose of analysis is 339. This sample size was decided for the purpose of accuracy and representativeness which are the aims of quantitative research. It also creates representativeness of all students in different fields of study and this enables generalization of findings.

C. Sampling Methods

A combination of probability sampling (cluster sampling) and non-probability sampling (quota sampling) was used for particular reasons.

1) Quota Sampling

Quota sampling was the main sampling method used. 213 questionnaires were filled through this sampling method. The criteria for choosing respondents through quota sampling were as follows:

→ Whether they seemed to be in the youth category,

→ The faculty to which they belong,

→ Sex,

→ Whether they have already filled in the questionnaires,

→ If no, whether they were free and would accept to fill in the questionnaire adequately.

Questionnaires were filled by respondents on the spot and collected by myself. This exercise was done with several objectives:

→ It avoids the loss of questionnaires by respondents.

→ Data collected are more reliable and questionnaires are filled adequately.

→ A rapport could be established with respondents and if they had any difficulty, clarity could be made (This exercise was done by maintaining value-free research).

→ Feelings and attitudes about the topic could be observed on the site of research.

→ It brings originality to the research method being used as well as the research since it seems like doing a qualitative research through a quantitative one.

2) Cluster/ Area Sampling:

With a large representative sample size, doing quota sampling by waiting for respondents to fill in questionnaires on the spot was predicted to be tiresome and time-consuming. This is why cluster sampling was used before I started undertaking the quota sampling

Cluster sampling could be used since the population of each faculty at the UoM consisted of units rather than individuals according to the type sample frame I set. 137 questionnaires were filled through cluster sampling in 3 classes of different faculties. Permission was obtained from lecturers to carry out this exercise in their class and the questionnaires were returned by respondents on the spot.

PILOT TESTING OF THE QUESTIONNAIRE

Students in my class did not take part in the main survey and thus 5 males and 5 females in my own classwere used as respondents to fill in pilot questionnaires. The revisions made to the original questionnaire after the pilot survey can be found in APPENDIX 7.

TIME DIMENSION OF THE RESEARCH

The research was carried out in the same order in which the methodology is written. The collection of data through questionnaires was done after the observation (19th- 30th October) and the interviews. Some questions to design the questionnaire were derived from the findings of these two. The questionnaires were distributed on week days between 09:00 to 15:00 during the last 2 weeks of November. The survey had to be carried out during these 2 weeks as exams at the UoM were due to start and after that the students would be away on holidays. The days and time chosen for the survey were aimed at targeting mainly full time and non working students so as not to increase variable in the sample for reasons already mentioned earlier.

SOME OF THE DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED

→ There is no sampling plan for the qualitative part of the research. This is because the respondents chosen for the interview were the ones available. For instance, candidates participating in the SU Elections campaign were too busy to commit some time for an interview. Moreover, after having contacted the Youth Wings of the 3 major political parties in Mauritius (MLP, MMM, MSM), the MMM party was the only party which was very accessible and ready to help. Politicians from the 2 other parties were mostly inaccessible. Even secondary data which were persistently sought from them could never be obtained.

→ It was only after sending several letters and making several phone calls made that an appointment could be obtained from Honourable Devanand Ritoo. On the day of the appointment, I had to wait nearly one and a half hour before he could meet me. On meeting him, he asked me what the interview would be like and what questions I was going to ask. I did not want to cause ‘deception' (to borrow a word from Diener and Crandall, 1978) to my respondent by lying as this would be against the ethical principle of research. At the same I did not want to show him the structured questions which were prepared for him since he might change his answers for the opening questions after seeing the interview guide. So I had to find a compromise between the two. After that, he made me wait for another 30 minutes since he had to meet an important person before we could carry on with the interview. The interview was short in nature since he had to go and the end of the interview was like a political correct statement if not an electoral campaign statement.

→ Some questions were not asked so as not to ‘harm' or ‘perform reprehensible acts to' (to borrow terms from Diener & Crandall, 1978:19) interviewees with whom I had established a rapport. For instance, Honourable Devanand Ritoo (born 29th October 1957) who referred himself as the President of Young Labour (Youth Wing) of the MLP during the interview could not be asked why this role has not been assigned to someone younger in the Young Labour itself.

→ All my questionnaires had to be filled before the start of December and I had to be very active to be able to do this especially with the size and type of sampling method I have chosen. This exercise and the analysis of data came out to be somewhat tiresome. Needless to mention about the cost of it.

→ Since the interview was carried out in Creole (with a purpose - mentioned earlier), it was transcripted in Creole language first and then translated to English before the process of analysis could. This was a quite time consuming exercise. Moreover some Creole words are quite complex to translate to English. The same exercise was done for information in APPENDIX 8.

DATA PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS

The ‘information gathered' / ‘findings' need to be analysed to be able to verify the hypotheses and this leads to the next chapter which is called the ‘Analysis of Findings '. The analysis of the findings is written in the same order as this chapter.

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