In the context of African studies, the researcher believes that the notion of taboos has been an essential element of African religion and culture. He reckons that taboos do not only constitute a part of African cultural heritage but also provide a good explanation of that heritage. Justification The researcher decided to focus on taboo in African culture from a general point of view. He believes that taboos are an essential concept in African culture and that to understand them will enable him to infer better its psychological, religious and social consequences. Purpose
The purpose of this work is to explore a concept of taboos in Africa. It will be done by defining taboos, providing examples and the way they can be categorized. A special attention will be given to the the role of taboo in maintaining social structures of African society. Methodology. This research is an ethnographic investigation that is interested not so much about studying people but rather in learning from people. Such an investigation takes place in order to understand the way people process their experiences (Spradley, 1979, p. 3) or “to get inside their heads”(Spradley, 1980, p. 10).
The researcher chose a qualitative approach in designing the survey. Due to the very nature of this particular research with its topic, a non-probability approach to sampling was taken. Within that approach, a purposive/judgmental way of sampling was decided upon. Russell (1994, p. 95) says that: “In judgment sampling, you decide the purpose you want an informant (or a community) to serve and you go out to find one… Purposive samples emerge from your experience in ethnographic research. You learn in the field, as you go along, to select the units of analysis…that will provide the information you need”. Methods of collecting data
Once the researcher has decided upon his topic, he created a questionnaire containing open-ended questions. This questionnaire was used by him during interviews with the participants of his research. The questions were formulated in a way that their meaning was supposed to be easy to understand to the respondents in order to avoid ambiguity (Russell, 1994, p. 268-269). The questionnaire was a starting point of a semi-structured interview taking place with participants concerning various aspects related to taboos as well as other cultural practices as suggested by Prof Katola and personal interest of the researcher and his field assistant.
During each interview, notes were taken by the researcher and his field assistant. In all cases, the permission was asked and given by the respondents to do it. Methods of interpreting data Taking into account the nature of ethnographic research, a qualitative way of collecting data and the intended method of presentation of finding, the researcher chose content analysis methods to interpret data. When applying that method, “the task of the researcher is to come up with a set of categories and then to proceed to count the number of instances that fall into each of those categories.