CHAPTER THREE - Research Methodology
main aim for this investigation was to examine the past and current
censorship and pornographic laws, and the problematic issues surrounding
the topic. Included in this
investigation was an attempt to establish changing attitudes on the topic.
study incorporated both primary and secondary research methods.
The aim behind the primary research was to discover current
attitudes on pornography and the sex industry, by using questionnaires as
a research tool. Secondary
research was conducted to gain a wide understanding on censorship and
pornographic guidelines, and the issues with the contested debates on the
topic. This could then be
applied to the primary research.
purpose behind undertaking primary research is to determine whether the
State are winning their battle to persuade the public to censor
themselves, or whether the public feel censoring regulations are not
significant. The research is to establish whether individuals approve or
disapprove of pornographic material.
Important in this study is the views of both genders.
This research aims was to find out what the public really thought,
and to help with this, the research has been linked in with the censorship
and social harm debate.
research techniques have been used to undertake this investigation, which
were questionnaires, a small discussion, and the viewing of a film for the
primary research. The film
used has been classified by the BBFC, yet has caused controversy in the
media. The film titled Intimacy
is directed by Patrice Chereau, and was classified in February 2001, later
to be released in July 2001. The
film's content has shocked some critics within the media with its explicit
sex scenes. Critics suggest
it to be, ‘…the most
sexually explicit English speaking film ever to be passed with an eighteen
certificate.’ (Collins 2001
-- see references). However director Chereau hits back stating, ‘…it is not a
porno film.’ (Chereau
2001). The media caused an
uproar of controversial statements, believing it to be pornographic.
This film was chosen as it is a recent film and received a great
deal of coverage.
was the subject of a series of questionnaires, with a group of students at
The College of St. Mark and St. John.
The aim of this research was to gain feedback on attitudes and
assess whether these attitudes were of the same nature as the media
expressed over Intimacy. On
gaining the feedback, it will help to determine whether the younger
generation's attitudes have changed or not towards the sex industry,
leading onto assessing whether the State should censor sexually explicit
material or not. A discussion
took place after evaluating the results from the questionnaire, on issues
commented upon by the respondents. The
purpose of this was to help the researcher understand remarks made by the
setting for the viewing of the film was in a comfortable environment to
make the participants feel at ease. It
was established after the researcher viewed the film, that the plot of
Intimacy was confusing, so to eliminate this problem, a short reading
containing a brief description on Intimacy was handed out along
with the questionnaires. (See
were chosen to be conducted, so a collection of data could be gained,
(Veal 1992) containing a record of, ‘…facts, comments and
1993:12). Questionnaires can
be said to have two functions. The
first, ‘is to describe the characteristics of a set of cases.’ (De Vaus 1991:5). For
example their age and gender. Secondly,
to be able to determine whether there are any casual links, such as
similarities of views between both genders which is apparent within this
study. (De Vaus 1991).
The latter means finding a link between the person’s views and
to the commencement of the primary research, a pilot survey was carried
out with a lecturer and a respondent.
It is important to conduct a pilot with a respondent as similar to
the main study, which in this case was a student from The College of St
Mark and St John. (Oppenheim
pilot survey…can help not only define your subject, but also to give you
some preliminary warnings…on problem areas, such as questions which are
sensitive...or which elicit vague responses.
were altered after the pilots were conducted, such as those that gave
vague responses. It was
established some questions were difficult to answer, due to the context,
and the little knowledge that the respondent had on the topic. As this would probably be the case for all the respondents
participating, prompts were implemented after some of the questions.
To avoid influencing the respondent too much, the prompts were
placed less obviously further down the paper, leaving space to answer
initially before reading the prompts.
(See appendix 1).
need to be laid out simply and need plenty of space for replies.
(Kane 1985). This questionnaire consists of two parts.
The first series of questions is to be completed prior to watching
the film. The second part,
are questions to be answered after watching the film.
The main aim of this is to establish what the respondent’s
feelings and opinions are before and after viewing pornographic material.
Also it is to help the individuals who may not be aware of the
content of such a genre, so combating the problem of gaining vague
feedback. A general format discussed by Kane (1985) suggests
questionnaires begin with broad questions, such as easy to answer
questions. Next should be a
series of less interesting questions, and lastly the sensitive and
personal questions should follow. The
questionnaire follows a similar structure.
Firstly beginning with broad questions on pornography and what it
is about. This is to
establish what the respondents already know about the research topic, and
their attitudes towards it prior to watching a film with sexual content.
These questions are rather open, but are still only generalised on
the topic, so there is no limitation on answers.
Following this, is a series of questions linked to the film, to
gain a general opinion to make comparisons or contrasts towards the
remarks made by the media. Lastly
is another set of open-ended questions that are more sensitive and
personal towards the respondent. Open-ended
questions were a large part of the questionnaire, as they allow the
respondent complete freedom to reply.
These can be known as, ‘attitudinal’ questions that asks,
‘what people think of something…and ratings of things.’
(Hague 1993:29). These sensitive questions were placed at the end of the
questionnaire, as the respondents were more likely to be relaxed and at
ease with the questions and environment.
Also after watching the film it may have helped overcome the
embarrassment factor, if there was one to begin with.
was conducted on types of questioning to avoid any problematic questions.
The ‘Fuzzy Word’ question (Kane 1985), is a term referred to
words having different meanings. ‘Fuzzy words can creep into almost any question.’
(Kane 1985:78). The questionnaires have attempted to avoid this issue, by
placing prompts and examples to save confusion.
The ‘Double’ question (Kane 1985), is another confusing term,
meaning a question could be asking two or more questions in one.
‘A question that to you seems extra carefully worded, may be a
mind-bender to your respondents.’ (Kane
1985:78). By undertaking a pilot questionnaire this helped establish
the confusing answers, and eliminate or alter these questions.
The ‘Cover-the-World’ question (Kane 1985), expresses the idea
that these questions become too generalised, meaning answers are
questionnaire for this investigation used this format specifically for
question one, in the first section. (See
appendix 1). This was
implemented, as there needed to be an answer gained.
If limitations was implemented, it could result in the respondent
withholding information, ‘…and it is important to capture the exact
words which are given in the reply.’
the investigation is covering a sensitive topic, this may of caused
restrictions. Respondents may
have felt embarrassed or uncomfortable with the content of the film and
may have effected the results. To
help overcome this issue, the questions were utilised as a questionnaire
format, so the respondent could remain anonymous, and hopefully answer as
honest as possible. The issue
still remains though, that there was little personal contact between the
researcher and the respondent. It
was only during the short discussion after the questionnaires were
completed, personal contact was made, but again it was difficult to detect
whether the respondent’s feelings were sincere.
Due to these complications, questionnaires were decided it would be
the better format to adopt. This is because it is less likely that the surrounding group
would influence each respondent. In
the investigation it has to be accounted, that the respondents may be
answering what the researcher wants to hear, or even what is deemed as
acceptable in society today. This
is a problem, but as no contact is made with the respondent and researcher
during the completion of the questionnaire, this decreases this problem.
sample size of twenty respondents took part in the primary research. It is evident such a small number is an unrepresentative
sample, but, ‘…mainly because of cost, [and time] it is not usually
possible to interview all the people who are focus of the research.’
(Veal 1992:148). Due to this investigation, there is no particular focus
group. For a representative
sample a range of groups should be targeted, such as gender, age,
occupation and class. This
would determine a range of opinions from a diversity of groups.
This investigation could not commit to such large-scale, so a small
group of students was targeted, ranging from the ages of twenty to
twenty-six years, and of mixed genders.
Each member is practically in the same position at present, but
they may have very different upbringing and backgrounds.
The results could have been effected by their upbringing, and what
is deemed as acceptable. So
questionnaires are best here, as some views may want to be kept
confidential. Two transcripts
of the questionnaires can be read in appendix 2
and 3, completed by one male and one female
respondent. When the results
was analysed, it was taken into account the sample size would not express
the whole of societies attitudes towards the topic.
the following chapter – Results and Analysis,
graphical data will be displayed for several of the questions as,
‘…trends and patterns can be seen more easily in graphic form by most
people.’ (Veal 1992:189).
For graphical results from the complete questionnaires, see
appendix 5 and 6. Due to the
format of the questions, coding the data for the results proved difficult
for specific questions. These
included, ‘Cover-the World’ questions, as there was an array of
answers. (Kane 1985). To
overcome this, main comments were drawn out, and similar remarks were
arranged together. To avoid
this problem throughout the questionnaire, several other types of
questions were present, such as a type that had dichotomous outcomes.
(De Vaus 1991). Coding
the data for these questions would only consist of having two options.
range of materials was accumulated to initiate the secondary research. This research was to gain an understanding of the background
research already available on pornography and censorship.
Quantitative methods were used to complete this research, to
provide solid information and a guide to further research.
Another main objective was to help simulate areas of discussion,
all of which the above is presented in chapter one and two.
literature was compiled for the background research.
There was a wide reading base for the general topic of pornography,
and especially the social harm debate.
However much of the literature was one-sided on the debate, all of
which was contributing to Dworkin's theory on pornography that, ‘…the
female…becomes the victim of the male.’
(Dworkin 1981:133). Much
of this literature is very influential and biased, though despite this;
relevant material was located on arguing for the rights and freedom of
pornography. Again it has to be noted that pornography is a sensitive
topic, and will be addressed throughout the investigation. Some of the academic literature was dated; nevertheless it
proved very beneficial for the study on the historical background.
Also it helped display that there has still been minimal
improvements into committing to a definition on pornography and
censorship, or suitable legislation to commit too. Many of the investigations were dated, and this is why
primary research is being undertaken to establish current views.
The BBFC have also contributed to more up to date research.
extended research on recent works an ample amount of information was
gained via the Internet. A
web search was adopted to locate information on legislation and reviews of
the film, Intimacy. This was
accessed through the BBC online web address.
Most of the information supplied by the BBFC was through a web site
dedicated to their organisation, and contributes a number of sections on
procedures and delegation involved within the classification process.
Brief contact was made with the BBFC through an emailing system to
assist in additional information for the investigation.
last quantitative research method conducted, involved the exploration of
relevant newspaper articles and journals.
The journals contributed to Chapter two - The BBFC, gaining some
more recent works. Newspaper
articles helped discover many reviews on Intimacy, with a combination of
opinions from the film. These
are expressed in the following chapter.
These articles contribute to the views and attitudes expressed on
pornographic material of today. Though
again they are biased writings.
chapter has discussed the main points of the reasons behind why certain
research methods were practiced. Once
all the information was collated, it was then possible to discuss and
present the findings.