A Critical Evaluation of Methods of Data Collection and Analysis and Their Applicability For the Research Question, What are the Perspectives of People Who Engage in Bribery in Kenya, and What are the Effects of These Perspectives on the Police Interrogation and Prosecution Process

Bribery and general corruption is not a totally new phenomenon in Kenya, East Africa (Kagari 2006). Rather, it is a social vice that is so deeply entrenched in the Kenyan social fabric that it has become increasingly difficult for the authorities to route it out. Corrupt deals by both individuals as well as by corporations have in the recent past formed the backdrop of many court cases in the country as the countrys government grappled to deal with the vice in response to the mounting international pressure (Kagari 2006). For a long time, the nation of Kenya has been unable to achieve any significant development, both democratically and economically, owing to this state of affairs. Corruption is so much ingrained in the society that it is hard, virtually impossible, for anyone to get any form or government service without giving a bribe. According to the recent Transparent International reports on national bribery indicators, Kenya was ranked as one of the most corrupt states in the world. Within the country itself, the public sector was ranked among the top corruption affected sectors, with the police force and the immigration department being among the top five most corrupt institutions (Kagari 2006).

Rampant corruption has been blamed on a number of issues, each of which has different implications for the countrys social and economic wellbeing. However, some of the most common and perhaps most dire consequences of rampant corruption have been in the process of the police investigation, interrogation, and consequent prosecution of suspects. This is mainly because the police officers are the main players in the corruption game and as such, at least going by the perspectives of the people, it becomes very difficult for them to investigate matters concerning themselves or their employers (Kagari 2006). In order to have an understanding of this in a much better way, this paper is devoted to the critical analysis of some of the qualitative research methodologies that can be applied in coming up with the requisite information on the perspectives of the Kenyans who engage themselves in corrupt deeds, and how in turn these perspectives impact the process investigating crime, arresting the suspects, interrogating, and finally charging then before a court of law (Kagari 2006).

The paper strictly adheres to the qualitative analysis  the human behavior and the natural reasons that are responsible for this behavior (Charmaz 2006). It addresses the concepts in the methodologies that seek to find out the reasons behind actions (the why and how aspects) in addition to others like what, where, and when. In essence, this analysis is mainly focused on the specific, often small samples as opposed to large scale, generalized ones.  The research does not concern numerical values but with issues of morality, substance, and value of each of the methodologies chosen as ideal for gathering such information (Corbin  Strauss 2008). These methods are applying focus groups and visual methodology.
Focus Groups
In order to understand a lot more about the issue of bribery in the Kenyan context, it is ideal to engage the services of a focus group. As small a group as one consisting of four to five people is ideal. Then the total number of groups can be about five so that at the end of the exercise a total of 20 to 25 people will have given their perspectives. Focus groups will provide the relevant information regarding what they think about corruption and especially why they engage in the corruption themselves. The participants can be drawn from the police force and members of the public. As these are people who have taken part in corruption, the information they give can be taken to be very true and as such its authenticity and reliability can never be questionable (Hesse-Biber  Leavy 2004).

The information regarding corruption and graft is usually very hard to find its way into the society (Glaser 2002). Being a criminal offence in Kenya and so illegal, corruption usually thrives in the secrecy of the people who engage in it. As such, focus groups might be ideal to give such information. This notwithstanding, the issue of bribery in the country is so rampant that everyone is almost willing to talk about it without any duress. As such, the choice of a focus group as a method to gather such information is critically important because the focus group will not have to be enticed to speak or comment on the issue as would happen if the subject matter was highly sensitive in the Kenyan society (Kagari 2006). In fact, corruption is so rampant in the country that many Kenyans fail to distinguish between a corrupt action and a transparent one, unless someone points it out to them (Kagari 2006).

Advantages of Focus Groups
Focus groups boast a lot of advantages and are more beneficial compared to the other methods of collecting and analyzing data, especially with a view to understanding the perspectives of people who give bribes and on the impacts these perspectives have on police interrogation. The first advantage of focus groups is that they are fairly cheap to constitute andor assemble, and the entire process can be carried out rather quickly (Hesse-Biber  Leavy 2004). Because Kenya is a culturally diverse nation with about 42 different ethnic groupings, this method will greatly appeal to the majority of them as they are more or less free and so readily available for any such service. That aside, most Kenyans are very eager to see have their country developing and so will readily give information towards that cause. In essence, they would love to be part of the solution just as they are part of the problem. The focus groups are even more easily assembled if the participants are to drawn from members of the same social group or cultural background, or even the same profession (Hesse-Biber  Leavy 2004).

The other advantage of focus groups is that they are ideal for collecting some of the most reliable data on the subject of bribery that there can ever be. Reliability of data collected determines the authenticity of the results obtained from the research and subsequently the information and conclusions that will be made from it. Focus groups of the nature that is to be found in Kenya - that is people who are willing to speak out freely and without any coercion or duress - are capable of giving reliable responses. To add to this, the fact that the subject matter is a topical issue of great national interest will more than add to the willingness of the participants to take part in the group sessions (Hesse-Biber  Leavy 2004).

In addition to the reliable data, focus groups will offer the researchers the rare opportunity of getting the responses directly from the respondents mouths, thus limiting any probable loss of information (Silverman 2001). This adds not only a touch of originality to the responses given but also the participants are able to spur each other on to speak more freely and without any need for coercion but simply from the ways others speak. Courage is somewhat contagious.  This ability for people to build on what others have said in order to come up with their own opinions is critical to the quality of the final data collected as it is greatly enriched V.
Another advantage of this method is that it is ideal for the use across all social classes and across all cultural backgrounds (Willig 2001). The first issue to consider here, especially with regard to the Kenyan public, is that not every person is as learnt as is the case in the developed world. Therefore, given that literacy levels are very low especially in the rural areas, focus groups will be ideal in bridging the gap between the literate and the illiterate, thereby giving all people a chance to respond equally to the research topic at hand. The rare chance that is offered by this research methodology is allowing respondents to take part in the analysis process  makes it an even more advantageous method (Willig 2008).

This is particularly because it is easy to find out from the group members how they think, believe, or even imagine the response given will impact another issue, or its importance, and so forth. This is in itself data analysis (Willig 2001). During the analysis process itself, therefore, the analysts will already have some contributions from the data sources. Finally, the focus groups allow participants in the group to act as balances and checks for each others responses. This is achieved when during the group session, each member of the group is able to respond to the contributions of the other members critically, and this makes room for corrections, and subsequently there is an agreement by all participants on the most appropriate response or answer to an issue (Willig 2001). This adds more value to the entire process and authenticity to the data collected.
Disadvantages of Focus groups
In spite of the many advantages discussed above, focus groups are likely to be inappropriate as a source of information on such a critically important topic. This is because it has been associated with a few shortcomings which will stand in the way of the ability of the researchers to get the required feedback and in the right quality (Silverman 2001). The first disadvantage is that focus groups are fertile breeding grounds for group loafing which allows members of the group to engage in a game-like behavior that results in the information given out being simply the effort of one individual. In essence, the groups will not fully participate in the discussion but only some members will (Denzin  Lincoln 2000). At the end of the day, it will be the few participants only whose views will be taken when actually an entire group was supposed to have taken part. The outcome is that the data is not representative of the views of all the people but rather the views of the most active members. Consequently, the results will not be true, and the final analysis will also be grossly flawed (Silverman 1997).

The second disadvantage of focus groups is that the responses that come from the participants are never independent at all (Denzin  Lincoln 2000). This is more so if the participants are drawn from a sample that has people who are closely related or who associate with each other very closely like colleagues at the place of work, schoolmates, and so on. The tendency is that some members will influence the answers of others. The person leading the research group will also tend to influence decisions easily because as a leader, the respondents will natural tend to want to give responses that heshe agrees with. Unless the lead researcher deliberately takes on a guiding role, the outcome is likely to be skewed to favor one side (Flick 2009).

The Ethical Issues in this Methodology
The ethical considerations in the given methodology are to be given a higher priority as far as possible. This is because ethics is an issue that is so close to the hearts of people in any society and Kenyans are no exception. The ethical issues that are in play in this methodology involve whether or not the people will be wiling to give information of their own volition, or if there will be need for coercion or duress (Denzin  Lincoln 2000).

The truth is that there are likely to be some ethical issues and concerns raised. This is the risk of putting the participants at the threat of being targeted by the Kenyan police officers in the event the participants are made public. This is a matter requiring a lot of attention and that has to be addressed before anyone is made to participate. It is a method that will likely jeopardize all the efforts put into the entire process. Then there is the issue requiring participants to identify themselves. It is highly risky as the outcome might be that the police will sooner or later get wind of the matter and literally go hunting for them. Otherwise, it is ethically and morally an acceptable methodology (Silverman 2001).

Visual Methodology
This is another method that can be used for gathering information about the peoples views concerning bribery and corruption. Visual research methods entail employing the use of different visual devices such as cameras, video recorders, television cameras, among others. The main principle behind the use of this method of data collection is that there is always documented evidence which, unless maliciously damaged or accidentally lost, will remain unaffected by any changes (Radley, Hodgetts  Cullen 2005).

In this method, the researchers can possible try as much as possible to take video footage andor photographs of the main players in the bribery game. In the case of Kenya, there are likely to be the police officers themselves, and the court officials. The researchers can also target the people seeking services in public health facilities like passports and identity cards, as well as those seeking help to get lost documents, lost loved ones, or even those whose loved ones are victims of crime and so need police help (Radley, Hodgetts  Cullen 2005).

Advantages of Visual Methodology
Visual methodology is an ideal method for a number of reasons. The first one is that it will provide a foolproof evidence of the data that was collected and as such, it will double up as an ideal method for data storage. One of the most common disadvantages of most research methods is that they often cannot be relied on to give data which can be store for as long as the researchers might love to. Visual methodology transcends this limitation. Another advantage is that the method offers the flexibility for the researchers to move wherever they want and to target the people they want (Rose 2001).

Disadvantages of Visual Methodology
The first disadvantage is that the method is socially unacceptable as it tramples on moral values. Secondly, it is very costly in terms of equipment, travel costs, and traveling costs. The method is also risk as the researchers are constantly exposed to the danger of being victimized by those recorded on the visual devices (Radley, Hodgetts  Cullen 2005).

Moral and Ethical Issues of Concern
This methodology comes in for a lot off criticism for its being grossly in breach of the ethical values of the people in the country. In the gathering of such data, it will be impossible to actually get any information unless the researchers operate as undercover agents andor as spies. This is made worse considering the fact that the police are targeted for the greater part of the investigation. This will complicate matters further as it is morally and even legally unacceptable for any person to stalk others in a way that is aimed to extract information from the person without hisher permission (Gillies et al. 2005).

What is at stake here is the reputation of the people who will be caught on the glaring cameras of the researchers and then used somewhere for some analysis. As such, this is a humiliating and antisocial behavior. In Kenya, the communities live together harmoniously and even the law offenders are accommodated in society and shown mercy. Such acts as these that portray any person in the negative light will likely grossly trample on their moral values and will be opposed (Reavey  Johnson 2007).

Collecting information on bribery and corruption in a country that has a high tolerance for the vice is very difficult. The selection of the samples sizes and the method of collecting and analyzing the data is therefore a very critical consideration which must be given priority over anything else. The methodology selected will determine the success rate of the entire research. In this critical analysis of the possible research methods, these two which have been considered may not necessarily be the best. Instead, each methodology will be applied on the weight of its own suitability, adaptability, and its level of appeal and acceptance in the Kenyan society.

On the basis of these considerations and those discussed in the critical analysis earlier in this paper, the choice between visual methodology and focus groups has to be made. The benefits of focus groups far exceed those of visual methods. In addition to that, the limitations of focus groups are fewer and can easily be resolved or overcome compared to those of visual methods. Thus, focus groups would be a better method of gathering information on the perspectives of the people who engage bin bribery and how these perspectives impact on the process of interrogation of suspects by the police force in Kenya, East Africa. The most important factor that makes focus groups the most ideal for this work is that it is an ethical method and will receive the required response from the people.


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