Understanding the research context matters because it gives the researcher some brief knowledge on the matter before the actual research is done. According to Madden (2010, p 65) research on people is based on their culture, social relationship and habitat. The researcher has to give an accurate, precise and in-depth report on his findings after the research. He has to understand the research context in order to give a satisfactory report. Understanding the context involves a personal interaction with the people, administering questionnaires and interviewing them on the relevant issues. For instance, in understanding people’s culture, the researcher has to stay among the people in the community and learn how they carry on with their lives. He has to understand the reasons for the activities and the implications of the breach of cultural practices.
It is vital to understand the research context before carrying out the actual research. This prepares the researcher in advance for the challenges that he might face during the research process. The researcher discovers the best way to handle the challenges, and this gives him the courage to indulge in an advanced research. It also gives an overview of what is expected so that he is not taken by surprise as this may distort the research process. The researcher is able to analyze critically the information before and after to determine the deviation from the findings. It also eliminates personal biased judgments as the researcher has a clue on the area of research and is not prone to misjudgment.
This knowledge is also important because it makes the work of the researcher easy. As he goes into the field, he has the general overview of what he expects from respondents and can easily connect what he sees with what he knows. It also helps him to analyze the changes in the community’s culture over time. According to Hart (1999, p76), due to the dynamic nature of the world, most cultures are vulnerable to change in order to adapt to the needs of the general society and facilitate acceptance of the community. The researcher is able to determine the real causes of the changes and provide the chronological order of events. The researcher might also miss some vital aspects of the people’s culture due to the time constraints or privacy of the information. The material gathered before the research will be used to complete the report.
Understanding the context matter is crucial when the report from the researcher is used to make material decisions. This makes the accuracy of the information vital. According to Madden (2010, p102) the researcher has to embark on serious evaluation of the context by investigating before the actual research is done. This increases the chances of an accurate and unbiased report. It is vital when the information gathered will be used by sensitive units of the country such as security and the allocation of resources. The government has to get the values, culture and norms of the different communities and appreciate them, so that they are considered in the making of laws and allocation of public resources.
This research is based on the pastoralists in the third world countries whose main economic activities are cattle keeping and raiding. These communities are mainly interested in their cattle and move from place to place in search for water and pasture. They also raid other communities for their cattle. These people have a culture that is unique and different from other communities. They mainly feed on roasted meat and drink blood of their cattle. Due to their nomadic way of life, they do not build permanent structures for shelter. Their houses are made of grass and sticks. Since they are mainly located in the hot and dry areas, their clothing is also different from other communities. They do not have proper clothing but only materials that are meant to cover their private parts.
These communities move together and are not allowed to marry to other communities. They also have groups that consist of people of the same age. After going through the initiation stage, these people are allowed to marry and join the warriors of the community. As they raise their families, they graduate to elders of the community. They have rights of passage, which are celebrated communally. These include birth, naming, initiation, marriage and death. They have a common language for interaction that differentiates them from other communities. Most of these people are illiterate, since they do not have the schools and their regular movements do not provide a favorable environment for learning. They engage in cattle raids and hunting for food. The arid areas in which they live cannot be used for planting. In order to increase their wealth, they have to steal cattle from other communities. They are also faced with the problem of availability of water and pasture. As they settle in a particular place, they allow their cattle to graze until there is no grass left or until they are attacked by another community and displaced.
Most pastoralists do not interact with members of other communities due to the language barrier and the lack of a common interest. They keep to themselves to maintain their traditions and support their race. However, they are considered an inferior ethnic group in the third world countries due to illiteracy and their few numbers. The political arrangement of the pastoralists is based on the council of elders, who are mainly people of majority age and are believed to be wise. These elders can advise the rest of the community. Their spiritual life is based on the belief that there is a supreme being that provides for their needs and controls the changes in the weather conditions. They have sacred places of worship where they meet to give their sacrifices and communicate with their God. Animal sacrifices are mostly given to God to appease his anger whenever the people had sinned and to ask God for a favor such as a victory as they raid other communities for cattle, water and pasture.
Over time, as pastoralists move in search of water and pasture, they may be assimilated by other communities as they adopt different cultural practices from them. For instance, they may adopt economic practices such as trade using money, basket weaving and pottery. Other communities are also able to learn from them. Pastoralists have their own customs and traditions that guide them in their interaction. These customs are passed on from generation. Some are rigid while others can be bent depending on the circumstances. These rules are enforced by the council of elders who have the right to issue punishments for the lawbreakers. They also have the responsibility of blessing warriors before they go to war.
In conclusion, it is necessary to understand that the research context matter because it gives the researcher an overview of what to expect from the people being studied. They are psychologically prepared before they carry out the research. It also enhances comparability between the accurate results of the research and the information gathered before the research. In studying the ethnicity of a group of people, the researcher has to consider their economic, political and social lifestyles. The social life refers to the interaction among themselves and other communities. Understanding the context matter also makes the work of the researcher easy as they are already informed on what they expect. It reduces the chances of bias and increases the potential to give accurate and precise information. Understanding the research context matter is important in instances where the researcher misses vital information due to time constraint or privacy policies. This is because some secrets of the community are kept from disclosure to the rest of the people in the community.