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Qualitative research, also known as phenomenological inquiry, is the use of naturalistic strategies to understand the given phenomena in a setting bounded by contextual characteristics. The research method uses intuitive strategies to produce findings without a use of quantification or statistical procedures. The purpose is to seek for understanding, illumination, and extrapolation of similar cases. There are several approaches and techniques that qualitative researchers can use during their inquiry. Every approach has pros and cons depending on the contextual factors (Miles & Huberman, 1994). This paper provides a response to various questions in qualitative research by using a case scenario of substance abuse and alcoholism among teenagers in a selected community.
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The phenomenon in this study is substance abuse among teenage alcoholics and the influence of 12-steps program having on them (Baxter & Jack, 2008). Phenomenology is a concept that social researchers have adopted to denote that people have different perspectives on the topic of study. Thus, the understanding of perception is characterized by empathy in order to understand and see things from their own perspective. In this study, alcoholism and substance abuse is a phenomenon that needs to be studied. However, the subjects, who are teenagers in this case, may not see it as a phenomenon worth being studied. As such, the researcher will identify the approaches that can be used to effectively bring the participants to understand the phenomenon.
Since the researcher is going to access more situations that can influence the findings of the study, he/she is also a part of the phenomenon although not a center of the study. The researcher is a phenomenon because his/her actions can influence the behavior of participants in the study. For instance, the prior research in literature on the same topic will contribute to the formation of opinions and sometimes bias bout participants. The time taken to do an interview will also affect the outcome of the study; thus, the phenomenological effects of the researcher (Merriam, 1998).
Yin (2003) has noted that a qualitative study must meet three important conditions. The first is that the research should focus on answering the how and the why questions. The second condition is that the research should work within the natural environment/factors of the subjects. This means that the person carrying the study should not manipulate the environment or the behavior of subjects to get pre-meditated or anticipated results. The third condition is that the contextual characteristics that are likely to impact on the phenomenon being studied must be accounted for during a research process. While conducting this study, I will formulate the how and why questions about the teenage substance abuse and the influence of the 12-step program on their behaviors. I will also evaluate the contextual conditions that might have exacerbated or prevented the substance abuse among teenage alcoholics. I will also seek for the relevant and sufficient information about general substance abuse and try to compare with other teenage vices.
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The research setting in the qualitative research refers to the cultural, physical, and social conditions, in which the study is being conducted. The focus is mainly done on the interpretation of the natural setting where participants are located (Silverman, 2000). The researcher cannot attempt to control the conditions in the setting, but should focus on the situated activities that put him/her within the context of participants. As such, the researcher becomes a part of the setting as he/she is completely immersed in the social, cultural, and physical perspectives of participants.
According to Cresswell (1998), the qualitative ressearch takes place in a natural setting where the researcher only acts as an instrument to collect data in all formats including words, pictures, observations, and recordings. The collected data must then be analyzed inductively with a focus on the participants’ perceptions. This is done through an expressive and persuasive language. The setting is a stage where the researcher can use qualitative approaches to understand better the phenomenon being studied. In most cases, there could be no prior information about that particular phenomenon. The phenomenal context should also allow the researcher to gain new perspectives on information that may already be known as well as an in-depth understanding, which is not easily conveyed through quantitative methods.
The setting, in which this study will be conducted, consists of places frequented by teenage children, both boys and girls, who are abusing substances, other than alcohol. A part of the setting will be physical and cultural practices of participants. For instance, their community and family values, the places where the teenagers go to school, and also some locations where they meet while abusing substance should be used in this study too. The study will narrow down those that are alcoholic and abuses substances (Yin, 2003).
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There will also be 12-step program being implemented in the setting. Those involved in that program will be alcoholic teenagers who are abusing substances. In this setting, there is a need to identify first the variables that will be tested later. The setting also allows determining a process of describing and interpreting the phenomenon. It is aimed to help ensure that research questions as designed in an open-ended manner that can lead the researcher to discovering the new information. The setting should also provide conditions to formulate and design research questions that are explicitly directed towards the discovery of the subject; the substance abuse and alcoholism among the teenage children (Wickham & Woods, 2005).
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