1.8.3 Grounded Theory
Based on the nature of the research, it is apparent that the study cannot be restricted to a particular theoretical framework to inform the course of inquiry that the paper seeks to adopt. In fact, various theoretical underpinnings prove of relevance to the study. According to Allan (2003), in a such a scenario where data exists in abundance regarding a particular phenomenon or where extensive research in the area has yielded results, conducting research based on a particular theory is ineffective. That notion is informed by the fact that data collection on the same issue will provide duplication of previous studies. As such, grounded theory proposes the collection rather combination of existing data to formulate patterns that will effectively chart the way forward in regards to the development of better understanding of the data. Grounded theory, hence, involves the construction of the theory through the analysis of existing data (Ralph, Birks, & Chapman, 2015). To that extent, grounded theory unlike conventional theoretical approaches operates from a reverse perspective seeking to evaluate the problem from a social science perspective known as positivism. Positivism, in that regard, may begin its inquiry with a question and then seek qualitative and quantitative data to support or negate the answer to the question posed. In retrospect, grounded theory combines diverse traditions in sociology, symbolic interaction, and positivism to provide a methodological dynamic that combines qualitative and quantitative data analysis approaches. In that regard, the role of people or qualitative data is represented by voicing the concerns of parties entangled in the evaluation of the phenomenon (Watson, 2013). Further, an examination of the profoundness of quantitative data through generation of patterns, codes, categories and properties that manifest in the sociological presentation of qualitative data is as well a core aspect of grounded theory data analysis. For that reason grounded theory takes precedence through its combination of both qualitative and quantitative modes (Aldiabat & Navenec, 2011).
The core objective of the development of positivism is to engage the existing data for common patterns. In other words, positivists will tend to look for repetitive ideas, moreover, codes are used for classification of categories of information with corresponding similarities. Equally, differences are as well noted and categorised as such (Allan, 2003). Centrally, whereas traditional research will seek to show how theory applies to the phenomenon under study or not, grounded theory uses already existing data on various angles touching on the phenomenon with the intent of revealing patterns of commonality that exists in the data for comprehensive interpretation of outcomes. Grounded theory, in that respect, proves relevant for the development of a comprehensive discussion based on the trends that align with current events associated with police brutality news reporting. Using data collected from a variety of instances of police shootings, the study seeks to combine such information into recognizable patterns (Faggiolani, 2011). To that extent, an evaluation of reporting about African-American males involved with law enforcement confrontations are presented as avenues of examination of media’s portrayal of African-American men. Grounded theory proves fundamental in the case of the study given that its evaluation of contemporary and traditional media sheds light on perspectives taken by the media when reporting on violence associated with police brutality. More so, the use of grounded theory approach is informed by the presence of numerous data sources from news agencies such as FOX News, CNN and The Wall Street Journal among others as primary sources of information on the topic relating to traditional media coverage of police brutality news. Secondly, a vast magnitude of sources of data associated with personalised information regarding police shootings of African-American males exists on the internet taking the form of various social media platforms for reach to publics that include, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube amongst more.
1.8.4 Social Conflict Theory
The Social Conflict Theory is a Marxist based theory that advances that strife between the haves and the have-nots is to blame for the inequality that exists in society. Primarily, Social Conflict Theory advances that two classes exist in society that will inform the manner in which individuals interact with one another and by extension determine how the relationship between the two groups are defined based on conflict. As such, a Marxist explanation for communal conflict is associated with the development of a capitalist economy where the wealthy influence decisions and as such the nature of interactions with the poor (Brystrova & Gottschalk, 2015). Consequently, terms of engagement often favour the powerful at the expense of the weak. The weak, therefore, revolt by seeking to establish level ground of engagement with the strong. As such, the lower class will make attempts at reorganizing the society so that terms of capital ownership and power are shared democratically (Tittenbrun, 2013). On the other hand, the strong will endeavour to stop the weak on their tracks by making it that much difficult to even out privileges that they enjoy with the weak or poor. For example, a Marxist explanation of the relationship between owners of capital and labourers advances that workers are exploited by their employers when they receive meagre salaries which benefits the owner since the owner makes the most profit (Coser, 1957). The relationship of inequality is what is termed as social conflict since each group will endeavour to fight for its interests. From a general perspective, society is divided into two classes, however, depending on the nature of the relationship between the said classes the two classes can be described as masters and slaves for the case of primitive societies (Brystrova & Gottschalk, 2015).
Notwithstanding, in modern times, such classes exists in the form of lords and serfs in the case of feudal societies and labourers and capitalists in the case of capitalist societies (Tittenbrun, 2013). In the end, the strife relationship boils down to the control of resources where opposing sides fight primarily to secure resources that they already have or to gain more of what they need or do not have (Dahrendorf, 1958). A class according to the social conflict theory is, therefore, a group or category of individuals who have common interests based on their similar economic position or privileges in the economy (Rössel, 2013). The class situation essentially forms the component of economic power and influence that a particular class of people controls. Further, class situations or conditions affect the chances of gaining foothold in control of resources and establishing interest in the society (Goroff, 2014).
The Social Conflict Theory proves crucial to the development of understanding of the plight of the African-American people of the United States. As such, the theory proves relevant in the development of an explanation of why it is important for the African-American people to struggle for equality in various fronts in social, political, and economic circles. As a minority group of people, African-Americans have suffered discrimination dating back from the days of slavery in the 17th and 18th Centuries (Perlo, 2007). To date, African-Americans in the United States continue to face discrimination at the hands of supremacist majority White populous. Education, housing, employment, and business opportunities are a privilege that White populations are not willing to share equally with the Black people of the United States (Horsey, 2014). To that extent, the Social Conflict Theory proves quite crucial for the development of knowledge and understanding on the issue. In particular, the discrimination of African-American males with respect to the high rate of incarceration of African-American males in comparison to males drawn from all other racial backgrounds (Knafo, 2013).
1.8.5 Hypodermic Needle Theory
The Hypodermic Needle Theory also known as The Magic Bullet or the Transmission-Belt Model is a theory of mass communication that implies that the Media has impactful effect on the audience by shaping the minds of the masses through the messages it directly injects to their brains (Bennett & Manheim, 2006). In that esteem, The Hypodermic Needle Theory proposes that the public are but sitting ducks targeted by the magic bullet that contains the media messages shot at them by media houses. The vulnerability of the population is in the fact that absence of liberalized communications tools makes the audience rely on the media for information. Consequently, the media takes advantage of the tools at its disposal to shape the mind set or thoughts of the populous by devising information in a form that it only can conceptualize and package with the intention of causing influence (Choi, 2014). The masses, on the other hand, directly receive the injection of the message with little choice on whether it holds truth or relevance to them at all. As a result, the media successfully shapes the ideology of the people making them abide by the message’s dictates or guide the masses to believe certain opinions as per the content and context of the media message. The Magic Bullet Theory implies that the media is at an advantage where its main aim is to devise an agenda and then make the public take it up as of importance (Stansberry, 2012). To that extent, the media using the hypodermic needle of knowledge injects information into the minds of the populous who have no alternative but to regard the message as it is presented to them. In other words, the masses have no opinion of their own and instead depend on the media to shape their minds on issues of importance.
The Hypodermic Needle Theory proves essential in the development of the research report based on the premise that it evaluates the role that the media plays in shaping the minds of the American audience as pertains to the perceptions about African-American assailants (Donaldson, 2015). The character and behavioural traits that are carried in the media messages during news reporting about incidences involving African-American assailants are discussed. More importantly, The Magic Bullet Theory is quite essential in providing an analogy of the relationship that exists between the American audience and the various media platforms that are available to them with reference to news consumption. To that extent, the evaluation of the Hypodermic Needle Theory helps to establish knowledge and understanding on the approach that the conventional and novel media outlets take as pertains to reporting on African-American males. More so, the evaluation of the audience and media relationship through the Hypodermic Needle proves how necessary it is to relate media influence with audience knowledge and perceptions about African-Americans. The Hypodermic Needle Theory, therefore, proves critical to the establishment of a cause and effect relationship between the media and the audience in America particularly on crime rates and the involvement of African-Americans (Kulaszwicz, 2015). It is imperative, hence, to note that the Magic Bullet Theory seeks to engage the research objectives and research questions through an evaluation of the exact relationship between the impact of the structure of the message and the ramifications that manifest in audience perceptions.
1.8.6 Critical Race Theory
Abbreviated as CRT, The Critical Race Theory came to prominence recently when courses were introduced in law school and social studies at various levels for the sole purpose of teaching colour blind racism causes and implications (Delgado Benal, 2002). In that regard, the CRT proposes that white supremacy and the supremacy of the Western world, in general, has with effect led to the discrimination of other races that is both intentional and non-intentional. Consequently, such are the minority races that include African-Americans in the United States of America. Critical Race Theory argues that White supremacy results in the maintenance of racial power that with it comes the transformation of law on the basis of racial authority (Yosso, 2005). In other words, the dominant White race uses its racial might to manipulate the law to its advantage (Harris, 2002). The premise of the CRT is to reverse the impact of the racial power through the emancipation and anti-subordination of the consequences of racial power. To that extent, the theory proves crucial to the development of an understanding of the development of legislation that seems to lean towards the advantage of the White populous and, regrettably, to the disadvantage of the Black minority (Quigley, 2011). The Critical Race Theory touches on the fabric of the social relations between White and Black Americans. As such, the theory is fundamentally crucial in the establishment of know-how on whether or not the criminal justice system is suited in favour of Whites at the expense of the African-Americans. Critical Race Theory, thus, proves fundamental to the evaluation of the state of affairs in the United States criminal justice system particularly concerning the high rate of incarceration of African-American males as compared to other races (Donald, 2008). The Critical Race Theory provides a platform on which an understanding can be developed pertaining to the role of the media in projecting an image of criminal African-American males.
To that extent, the structure of the legislation as well as statistics and information that is shared in both traditional and modern forms of media concerning the nature of Black men incarcerated in the criminal justice system proves key. As such, the evaluation of media reporting both on modern and traditional platforms employs the CRT model to develop knowledge and understanding of the reinforcement role of the media with respect to instigation of laws pertaining to crime. More so, laws associated with incarceration of people of Black skin colour in comparison to equal offenders who are either Caucasian, Latino or otherwise (Kahn & Kirk, 2015). The research seeks to employ the Critical Theory Model for the evaluation of the media’s impact on development of legislation that takes a racist approach towards criminal justice. Moreover, the media is vetted for giving a balanced reporting approach to incidences of criminal occurrences orchestrated by White and Black criminals alike (Donald, 2008). The important thing to note in the use of the Critical Race Model to understand the aspect of White supremacy through influence of legislation lies in the establishment of legislation that favours justice for White criminals over Black criminals. Towards that end, the weight given to the nature of offenses committed by African-American men as opposed to Caucasian equivalents forms the basis of discussion. It is, hence, imperative to understand that White supremacy in the context of Critical Race Theory on matters legislation is advanced by the media through championing leniency in justice for White criminals as compared to African-American convicts (Kahn & Kirk, 2015). Consequently, the evaluation takes the form of evaluating both traditional and modern forms of media and gauge each for its effectiveness or not in promoting White supremacy justice to the disadvantage of the African-Americans.