Doing Qualitative Research

A Critical Evaluation of Methods of Data Collection and Analysis of Their Applicability to the Research Question, How has corruption affected the cultural development of the people of Thailand  or How did the rates of corruption in Thailand reach their current astronomical levels

Corruption has been a major hindrance for developing countries such as Thailand (Phongpaijit 2000). Recorded evidence of corruption in Thailand dates back to the 16th century. It is a social vice that is so deeply entrenched in the Thai social structure that it has become a seemingly normal part of life. Corruption is engaged in by individuals, businesses, and government entities and has caused a near halt to the economic development of Thailand (Transparency Thailand, 2009). The mounting number of court cases in recent years has placed a strain on the countrys economy and its social structure as the justice system grapples to deal with international pressure to reform (Jareonthanawat nd). For many years now, Thailand has been unable to achieve any significant development, neither democratically nor economically because of the skyrocketing rate of corruption (Transparency Thailand, 2009). Corruption is so deeply ingrained in all aspects of society that it is becoming difficult to make any type of gain without offering a bribe. According to the recent Transparency Thailand (2009) reports on national bribery indicators, Thailand was ranked 2nd in the Asian corruption index. The public sector within the country itself was ranked among the top, with the police force and the Ministry of Finance being among the top five most corrupt institutions in the country (Phongpaijit 2000).

Widespread corruption has been blamed for a number of issues, each of which has had severe repercussions on the countrys social and economic well being. Some of the most common and perhaps most appalling aspects of this widespread corruption has been the large amount of corruption involved in the processes of police investigation, interrogation, and subsequent prosecution of suspects.

I will be using qualitative research methods for this project. Qualitative research is not based on numbers but with issues of morality and ethics (Corbin  Strauss, 2008). This research will attempt to uncover the extent of corruption among the countrys police and other government agencies. The existence of corruption within these entities makes it nearly impossible for the citizens of the country to obtain help. It will take assistance from outside the country to combat corruption by investigating the actions of the police, investigators, government officials, and the justice system (Phongpaijit nd).

In order to better understand the level of corruption that Thailand is in the midst of and the disastrous effects on its social structure, this paper is devoted to the qualitative research methodologies and analysis of the data retrieved to analyze the origins and current magnitude of corruption and how severely it affects  the people of Thailand.

Historiography Methodology
Research for this paper will involve qualitative research methodologies to provide an understanding of the cultural behavior of the Thai people and the reasons behind the severity of corruption.  In order to answer the research question presented here, it is important to know the countrys history of corruption and why it has escalated.

This can best be accomplished using Historiography research. Historiography is a qualitative research method provides the means of gathering and analyzing historical evidence. There are four types of historical evidence primary sources, secondary sources, running records, and recollections. Primary sources are archival data that can be found in archives and libraries. Secondary sources are the works of other historians writing history.  Running records are documentaries maintained by private or nonprofit organizations (Hornblower, 1996). Recollections are autobiographies, memoirs, or oral histories. Deductions about intent, motive, and character are common, with the understanding of appropriateness to the context of the time period. For the purposes of this research, I will be utilizing primary and secondary sources for data collection. I will also integrate a lesser known form of historical research called Prosopography (Stone, 1972). Prosopography is the study of biographical details (e.g. background, catastrophic events, education, and religion, etc.) that are found to be in common among a particular group of people. This method will be used to find commonalities among government officials, society elites, well know crime bosses, and other political office personnel. The biographical details of high profile people can be located using Prosopography. Prosopography has the ability to render valuable insights into the how and why by comparing biographical profiles.

Data Collection Methods
A Sample of Primary and Secondary Sources that will be used to Gather Data
Chai-Anan Samudavanija 1977, Problems of Bureaucratic Corruption in Thailand
A Study of Legal Codes, Administrative and Institutional Arrangements, Paper
presented at the Bureaucratic Behaviour in Asia Project, Pattaya, Thailand, 18-23

Borwornsak, U 2001,DepoIiticising Key Institutions for Combating Corruption
The New Thai Constitution, in Peter Larmour  Nick Wolanin (eds), Corruption
and Anti-Corruption, Canberra Asia-Pacific Press.

Banerjee, A 1996, Can Anything Be Done About Corruption in M G Quilbria
 J Malcolm Dowling (eds), Current Issues in Economic Development An Asian
Perspective, Hong Kong Oxford University Press.

Straits Times (Singapore) 2002, Police Chief Admits Yes, Thai Cops are Corrupt,
What Do You Expect 5 June.

2003, Arroyo Accepts Graft Checks on her Family, 19 August http
www. transparency, o rgcg i-bindcn citID70414
Barbara Leitch LePoer, ed. Thailand A Country Study. Washington GPO for the Library of Congress, 1987. Table of contents retrieved from httpcountrystudies.usthailand
Schlueter, Georg. Combating Corruption in ThailandPaper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany, Jul 24, 2007 Not Available. 2010-01-24 httpwww.allacademic.commetap181708_index.html
(Hamburg, Institut, Germany) Germany), and Dokumentations-Leitstelle Asienkunde). Sdostasien aktuell. 2006-01-01, 2006. Print.
Bhargava, Vinay, and Emil Bolongaita. Challenging corruption in Asia. World Bank Publications, 2004. Print.

Grounded Theory Methodology
Grounded theory is based on the assumption that a theory can be discovered from data. There are several versions of grounded theory which are full vs. abbreviated, subjectivist vs. objectivist, Struassian vs. Glaserian, realist vs. social contructionist (Willig, 2001). The researchers concern is in the subjects recollections and the social context with which they originated. A study of both the experience of the subject and the wider social processes would be needed to gain a full understanding of the social and psychological repercussions (Willig, 2001).

Data Collection Method
The data collection method that will be used for this research method is semi-structured interviews. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with a fairly open framework which allow for two-way communication. I will contact and interview some of Thailands local reporters by telephone. I will then ask them if I have their permission to record the conversation. Recording someone without their permission or knowledge is illegal and immoral (Gillies et al, 2005). Any information obtained by illegal means cannot be used as data in research (Reavey  Johnson, 2007). Permitted voice recordings would be a vital part of the research due to the fact that the recorded voice is documented evidence that can remain unchanged by events (Radley, Hodgetts,  Cullen, 2005). I will contact reporters from several media outlets that contain news of crime in Thailand. The contacts will consist of phone calls (for those that are willing to be recorded). For those who do not consent to voice recordings then emails, and written correspondence will be utilized. All of these methods will produce documented data for analysis (rose, 2001). The interviews of local reporters will be the source of data regarding the reasons for the current rate of corruption, the main types of corruption, and suspected causes. The interviews will also add insight to the strength or weakness of the social structure, as well as, the general disposition of the people.

I will also conduct written interviews in the form of lettersquestionnaires sent to many inmates in Thailand prisons. Generic written interview forms will be sent to inmates until I (using a factious name) receive (through a post office box) enough responses to form a data analysis. The interview questionnaires will be semi-structured to enable the inmates to add any additional information that they would like to share. This additional information may or may not be relevant to the research but could possible make the inmate more willing to answer the provided questions. As a result of research for this paper, I have discovered that the prisons in Thailand have web sites that list all inmates and instructions on contacting them, specifically through mail. As these are people who have taken part in corruption, the information they provide should be taken as eye witness accounts based on facts (Hesse-Biber  Leavy, 2004)

Ethical Issues
Information regarding corruption can be difficult to obtain from innocent members of society due to the risk involved (Glaser, 2002). Due to the sensitive subject matter involved in interviewing reporters and inmates, special measures will have to be taken to ensure anonymity and privacy (Hesse-Biber  Leavy, 2004). No promises can be expressed or implied in regards to secrecy. An honest statement of intent and purpose on my part must be voiced prior to any questioning. An assurance that no names will be used in the research is feasible. My name will be changed for research purposes to ensure my anonymity. No face-to-face interviews will take place. These and any other precautions will be implemented prior to the interview process. Safety is a first priority. There are many liabilities when inquiring into the lives of corrupted people.

Data Analysis
Qualitative data analysis is the process of moving the data that has been collected into a form of explanation, understanding, and interpretation of the people and situations being investigated (Charmaz, 2006). Qualitative data analysis is based on an interpretative philosophy that provides a meaning to the data collected. The analysis of that data collected from the interviews will attempt to identify an overall view of how the level of corruption in Thailand has affected the social environment of the people and the general atmosphere of different areas within the country. Biographical information can also be obtained from the inmates and can be used to recognize a common theme among criminals that are incarcerated for similar crimes. Because Thailands culture is so diverse, with about twelve ethnic groupings (Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, 2008) the inmates in the prisons should be equally diverse. A large number of questionnaires would have to be sent due to the low literacy rates in Thailand (Chaiangkool, 2009). The quality of the feedback in this process could be a factor in analyzing the data (Silverman, 2001). Another factor that could affect the results is the mental health of the inmates (Denzin  Lincoln, 2000). On the other hand, this process is ideal because it would create data from all ethnic grouping that are part of the social structure of the country (Posita, 2009). Common themes among the different ethnic groups and other demographic factors will be coded for easy retrieval when needed. The data retrieved from inmate would also provide information about both sides of corruption (Flick, 2009). Some of the inmates would be victims and others would be offenders.

Analysis of the data collected through archived historical research will be used to determine any existence of patterns in corrupt activity throughout history. The results of this analysis will help us to answer the research question, How has corruption affected the cultural development of the people of Thailand Historical data will show us how Thailand became so corrupt. Knowing the reasons behind the events that have lead the Thai people to where they are today, will enable them to develop catalyst based reform efforts.

Summary of Research Focus
The research for this paper will focus on the history of corruption in Thailand, in order to better understand the circumstances that brought them to their current predicament. The research will show how the current state of the countrys social structure is in a rapid decline. This rapid decline will only add to the level of corruption that is already present. The people of Thailand are in desperate need of help in stopping corruption (Alongkorn, P., 2002). The analysis of the data collected from this research will help the Thai people to cut corruption off at the roots. This research will not develop an exact plan of action, but instead, will help the people Thailand to know the origins and reasons behind the corruption. This knowledge will enable the people of Thailand to devise plans of action that could stop corruption at its source.

The willingness of reporters to do anonymous but recorded phone interviews and the extent to which inmates are willing to participate.
The literacy of the inmates.
The status of mental health of the inmates.

In Conclusion
This paper has shown that the chosen methodologies are appropriate for obtaining the needed data that will answer the research question. The emphasis of this research is on the documented history of the problem and how it has been instrumental in the social decline since the 16th century.


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