OverallResearch Design and RationaleAs established in theintroduction and the literature review, this study aims to analyze howdemocracy is understood by dominant political actors. With this objective inmind, choosing exploratory case studyas the research design would be most appropriate. Flick (2009) mentioned thatin a case study, cases are described and reconstructed. As a strategy ofinquiry, it permits an in-depth exploration of a specific case, may it be aprocess, event, organization, community or an individual within its naturalsetting (Flick 2009:134, Creswell 2009:13). Moreover, the rationale behind using exploratory casestudy is to develop thick descriptions of certain observations to furthercontribute to future and existing literature on democracy. Using a specific case allows for looking at thecomplexity of the concept and the views of chosen subject rather than sortingout big data provided by surveys which more often does not include the contextbehind the answer.A case study is also open fordifferent methods on data collection.
As the subject of study is legislators,key informant interviews would be the method to be used to collect data whilethe data gathered will be analyzed using discourse analysis. Research UnitsThis study would look at howFilipino legislators understand the concept of democracy. Therefore the unit ofanalysis would be the members of the 17th Congress of the Republic of thePhilippines specifically the House of Representatives (HoR). The currentCongress is chosen for the reasons of viability and that during their terms,democracy in the Philippines is said to have been challenged. Democracy ratings of Philippines during theentry of the new administration and Congress have been decreasing.
Time DimensionSinceonly the members of the 17th Congress would be interviewed, the nature of thisresearch would be cross-sectional. Hence it would not be able to examine howFilipino legislators’ conception of democracy has evolved. Although it would bebetter to compare much earlier representatives and the current Congress toachieve a longitudinal aspect, the age differences could be a proxy to documentsuch dynamics. Validity and Reliability Issues As in any research methods, there would belimitations and a number of issues may arise such as validity and reliabilityissues. Since case study uses smaller number of objects to be analyzed, it isassumed that is less representative. However deeper analysis of the case beingstudied such as doing KIIs could help increase its internal validity.Triangulation can be used to address validity concerns such as doing peer orrespondent evaluation.
Existing documents or records related to whatlegislators have divulged during the interview can be analyzed to triangulatedata obtained. Asfor reliability or the chances of obtaining the same results when the datacollection method is repeated, a detailed documentation of procedures andappropriate record keeping could be used. RespondentsThe current lower house of thelegislative branch is composed of 297 representatives, 238 of which aredistrict representatives while the remaining 59 are representatives of electedparty lists. Since this is a case study and the method to be used is keyinformant interview, it would be difficult if all representatives are to beinterviewed. Thus a sample will be drawn out from this population throughsimple random sampling.
Simple Random Sampling is a type of sampling whereinevery object has the same probability of being chosen. This sampling methodwill be employed as it is easier to conduct without sacrificingrepresentativeness. The interviews will only range from 15-30 individuals. Thisis a manageable number of participants considering the goal of the study is notto generalize but to do an in-depth understanding of existing discourses ofdemocracy among legislators.
In doing the random sampling, alist of current members of the House of Representatives, arrangedalphabetically, will be made and each legislator will be assigned a number. Arandom number will be generated using an external random generator program. Thelegislator corresponding to that number will be contacted in two ways. First,an e-mail containing a letter of request for interview will be sent. Then theresearcher would also go directly to the office of the representative to give acopy of the same letter of request. The legislator would be given an amount oftime, at most 4-5 days, to respond to the request.
Should a selected informantdecline to be interviewed, the name would be removed from the numbered listwith all other numbers rearranged accordingly. The selection process will berepeated until the desired number of key informant interviews is achieved. Data Collection Methods andProceduresAs mentioned in the review ofliterature, survey questionnaire is the commonly employed method to understandhow certain individuals or groups understand democracy. However, since thisstudy aims to do an in-depth analysis of how democracy is understood, key informant interview would be bestsuitable as the method for data collection.
Key Informant Interviews areone-on-one interviews with an informant who is an expert or who has first-handknowledge of what is being studied. Using key informant interviews producein-depth and detailed insights from different informants individually comparedwith focus group discussions where some participants may not be able to answerdue to a number of reasons.The data collection process willstart with the selection of sample as discussed above and the sending out ofletters of requests for interview to chosen key informants. Constant follow-upwill be made to determine the response of the participants. When the informantsare willing to participate in the study, the next step would be the setting-upof the interview. The time and venue of the interview would depend upon theagreement of both the researcher and interviewee. It would be better if theresearcher would initially request for the interview to be held in the officeof the informant or at the Batasang Pambansa located in Batasan Hills in QuezonCity to minimize external influences such as presence of constituents or largecrowd.
However, the venue suggestion of the informant would be more considered.During the interview proper, introductions would be done first. This is to befollowed by briefing and signing of consent forms (see Appendix B for thedetailed consent form). Included in the briefing would be the asking ofpermission to record the interview, either in video or audio format.
The interview would follow asemi-structured format. Questions would be both in the English and Filipinolanguage as these are the languages officially used in sessions of theCongress. The discussion would start out first with questions regarding theirworking experiences in the legislative branch and a number of current issues.The next set of questions would then ask their insights on democracy. Thisincludes questions such as but not limited to what democracy means for them,how they perceived democracy in the country, problems they think democracy bothin the country and the world is experiencing, what they like and do not likeabout democracy and so on (see Appendix C for detailed list of questions).
Thisapproach is done so as to familiarize and establish a connection first betweenthe interviewer and interviewee rather than directly asking the questionsconcerning the main focus of the study. If the interviewee is acquainted withthe researcher, it allows them to reveal their complex thoughts more freely.The researcher would take notes during the course of the interview to accompanyvideo/audio records if permitted by the informant. After all interviews for theday are done, notes would be immediately organized and video/audio recordingsof the interview would be transcribed.
Both notes written down and transcribedvideo/audio materials would be used as data for analysis.Letters of request for interviewand detailed consent forms (See Appendix A and B respectively) would beutilized to address ethical considerations. Full and pertinent informationabout the nature of the research as well as the rights of the informants willbe included in both letters of request and consent. Participants will beinformed that they are free to decline or pull out of the interview anytimethey wish to do so. Throughout the data collection procedure, the autonomy andconfidentiality of the key informants will be observed and respected. After theinterview and before the analysis is to be done, the data transcribed will beforwarded to the informants first to triangulate and assure accuracy of thetranscription. A copy of the final paper would be also made available to theinformant.
Preliminary Strategy of Analysis To complement the researchmethod, the researcher sees to it that the most relevant and appropriate toolfor analyzing the data is discourse analysis. Schmidt defines discourseanalysis as “a descriptive language or analytical framework that allows theresearcher to identify, describe and analyze important phenomena when theyoccur, that applies only under certain conditions, and for which theories canbe developed and tested” (as cited in Burnham 2008). Discourse analysisallows using different fields such as social science and linguistics to analyzea phenomenon. Fairclough (1993)discusses critical discourse analysis (CDA) as an analytical and methodologicalframework wherein an analysis of spoken and written texts is done and analysisof values, assumptions, contradictions and interests that sustain andreproduces power relations in discourses are explored within its specifichistorical, political and social context. This method of analysis would help inlooking at how language and discourses about democracy are used as tools bydominant groups such as legislators. After the interview data aretranscribed, it would go under process of coding or creating discourse strands.This could be done using external software for faster and more accurateanalysis. Predicate analysis could be conducted wherein phrase or predicatesthat describe specific attributes of a social group or event are selected andextracted from the text (Reisigl and Wodak 2009).
This is consistent with thegoal of the paper to look for the meanings legislators associated withdemocracy. The researcher would also give great attention to make sure themeswould arisen by themselves and not be influenced by predetermined categories