Blog Details

05 June, 2016

Field work training for the 'New Media and Religion' Research Project

Mosadi Moloi

In preparation for the field work for the “New Media and Religion” research project, a training workshop for all the research assistants was organized by Dr. Gabriel Faimau and held at the University of Botswana on the 30th May 2016. Presenting at this workshop were Dr. Faimau and Ms. Thato Setambule, both from the Sociology department, and Ms. Dineo Ralefala from the Office of Research and development who gave a presentation on research ethics and consent. The aim of the workshop was to instill in the research assistants that attention to detail, adherence to standards and awareness of your surroundings are important tools when carrying put good research.  The workshop focused on providing the research assistants an overview of the project as well as the methodology and the procedures that would be utilized during the project.

With the project titled “New Media and Cultural Application on Religion: A Case Study of Prophetic Ministries in Botswana” it examines the developing relationship between new forms of media and religions, particularly those of a prophetic and Pentecostal nature, and the changing dynamics that these represent in our society today. Dr Faimau outlined that traditional churches, normally equated with a sense of belonging, are now in competition with a number of new churches, or ministries, that have been established in Botswana within the last 3 years or so. In the last 5 months alone, two hundred and thirty six applications to establish a church in Botswana have been received by the government. This study seeks to establish what drives worshippers to join these ministries, to what extent they view themselves as “belonging” to the ministry, and if this sense of belonging is driven by the preaching or by the prophetic “healing” nature of these churches.

The workshop focused on introducing the assistants to each other and training them on matters of ethics and consent including how to identify and approach potential participants and the importance of answering questions honestly and maintaining a respectful environment. Ms. Ralefala highlighted that treating a research participant as an object rather than an individual leads to a lack of respect that can impact the quality of the information provided by the participant. Respectfully and ethically engaging with the participants is an important keystone to ensure participants understand and can consent to participating in the study. Focus was also placed on ensuring that a professional manner is always maintained with participants especially when answering questions.

The research assistants took part in an activity designed to sensitize them to the types of questions they may be asked by participants during the study. Ms. Setambule focused on the responsibility of the research assistants to be respectful of the participants, adhere to the dress code that each particular ministry may have, to be on time to the services and to refrain from any behavior that may seem judgmental to the participants. The workshop was well attended and maintained a learning environment that prepared the research assistants for their work in the field.



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