Chapter III

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Research Methodology

Research Methodology


The primary method for conducting this study was the use of a content analysis used in a triangulation of two types of literature complimented with interviewing of individuals that were involved in the law making process concerning ritual abuse laws. Flick (1992) & Silverman (1997: 25, 90-91) state that triangulation has been generally thought of as a process of using multiple perceptions to clarify meaning, verifying the repeatability of an observation or interpretation. But, acknowledging that no observations or interpretations are perfectly repeatable, triangulation serves also to clarify meaning by identifying different ways the phenomenon is being seen by different sources. Babbie (1998: 293-302), Stone & Weber (1992: 290-295), Van De Poel Knottnerus & Knottnerus (1994: 67-78; 2002), (Silverman 1997: 90-91) and Sanders (1982: 355-357) note that a content analysis can be a very useful tool for providing evidence of what is being researched especially in the form of literature analysis. A traditional content analysis is a "quantitatively oriented technique by which standardized measurements are applied to metrically defined units and theses are used to characterize compare and contrast documents" (Manning and Cullum-Swan 1998: 248). Babbie (1998) & Silverman (1997: 80-96) provide a detailed description and guide of how a successful content analysis should be conducted. In each section this author applied a version of it to this research, and finally, the author addressed the relevance of using this particular method. The content analysis contained rich descriptions and quotes to support the theory and corresponding analysis as suggested by Denzin and Lincoln (1998b: 11). Later interviews with persons involved in the law making process lended further support to analyzed data gleaned from the literature sources.

Scope of Analysis:

The first stage in this process was to determine the subject that one will study and to determine its units of analysis. Van De Poel-Knottnerus & Knottnerus (1994: 70-71; 2002), Babbie (1998) & Sanders (1982: 356) explain that the researcher must decide what precise topic(s) the individual chooses to investigate. These topics include what subject matter was studied, what group(s) was looked at, and what experiences were analyzed and studied, etc. Once these topics were established, the researcher explored the scope of the literature that is available in these areas. This research looked at ritual abuse laws generally in the five states that have passed such laws. Then, more specifically, within a large state and a small state ritual abuse laws were examined in more detail for reasons of comparison and contrast. The states selected as case studies for this purpose were those of Texas and Idaho. Yin (1994: 18-31) suggests case studies are a good way to narrow the scope of one's research and at the same time provide good possibilities for generalization if the case study selected is representative of broader patterns existing in society.

For this reason the document sources for ritual abuse laws that were considered in the content analysis were researched back for several years before of the formation of the law and its ...
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