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The study will use a qualitative research design to explore the influence of materialism on cultural values, attitudes, and social relationships in the UAE. The aim of the proposed research is to find out how materialistic tendencies affect people’s attitudes, values, and social relationships in the UAE context.
A qualitative design systematically seeks evidence to support a particular phenomenon or answer a research question. Through the qualitative design, we will be able to understand materialism and its effects from the perspective of the participants drawn from the UAE population. This study approach is useful when examining the aspects of a culture-specific phenomenon such as views, attitudes, and behaviours.
Materialistic individuals display distinguishable values and psychological attributes, including envy, greed, and envy. Such subjective characteristics cannot be effectively captured by quantitative methods that involve numerical values. Qualitative design will help us obtain detailed textual descriptions of UAE citizens’ experiences, beliefs, views, and behaviours. This information will help us determine the relationship between materialism and the social variables tested.
The idea here is to describe the relationships and group norms, as opposed to quantifying the effects of materialism. The qualitative design will yield deep insights into how materialism shapes cultural values, relationships, and attitudes in the UAE because it involves flexible instruments that elicit detailed and informative responses from the participants.
In the proposed study, we will use in-depth interviews to collect data from the participants. The study will test three dependent variables. We will test material values related to wealth acquisition and materialism as a determinant of wellbeing and personal success. Personality values will form the second variable. We will measure traits such as possessiveness, greed, self-preservation, and envy among the participants.
We will also measure cultural values to find out the effect of materialism on acculturation. We will compare the cultural messages participants received in their childhood with the current socialization to determine changes in values, social relationships, and attitudes. Independent measures, i.e., the demographic variables will also be collected.
Participants and Sampling
The participants of this study will include UAE citizens aged 20 and above. The study will survey both male and female participants who meet specific inclusion criteria. The participants will be drawn from students enrolled at a UAE university. This population will comprise of mainly seniors taking undergraduate courses at the university.
Being seniors, these students are of a legal age to give consent. Participants must also be UAE nationals. No foreign student will be recruited in this study. Based on these inclusion criteria, we intend to recruit nine students (five females and four males) to participate in this study.
As aforementioned, the participants will be drawn from a local university in Abu Dhabi. We will place adverts at strategic points on the corridors and buildings within the campus requesting eligible students to participate.
The adverts will inform potential participants about the study’s purpose and expected outcomes. Participation will be voluntary, but those who will participate will be given a T-shirt and caps emblazoned with the university logo as a token of appreciation. This will motivate students to participate and thus, help us reach a sample size of nine.
The study will use a non-probability sampling technique to recruit the participants. Students who meet the inclusion criteria will be conveniently sampled into the study. We prefer convenience sampling because it is a fast way of recruiting the nine subjects. Moreover, the location (university) is easily accessible to the researchers. Probability sampling would not feasible for this study because of the large population size and lack of sampling frame.
Convenience sampling will help us get the sample size easily and at a lower cost. However, this approach has some limitations. First, researcher bias may lead to under- or over-representation of certain categories. We will overcome this by ensuring that participants meet the inclusion criteria and both genders are equally represented. A second limitation is that with a convenience sample it is not possible to generalise the findings to the rest of the student population.
Instruments and Techniques
We will use two types of instruments in this study. One of the instruments the study will use is a semi-structured questionnaire administered by the researchers. A semi-structured questionnaire is a flexible instrument that allows the interviewer to probe particular issues during the interviewing process.
It will contain open-ended questions to elicit unrestricted responses. This instrument will measure the participants’ attitudes towards material objects and money. The personal details of each participant will be sought before he or she can be interviewed. The personal data will include age, gender, religion, year of study, and study program.
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The interviewer will also ask probing questions to obtain detailed information regarding the respondents’ consumption/materialistic behaviour. The interviewer will rate the responses using the Likert scale. Based on their responses, we will be able to assess their materialist values, personal values, and level of acculturation.
The second instrument is the materialism scale. We will use this scale to measure three factors, namely, success, material acquisition, and happiness related to money. We will extend this scale to measure possessiveness, greed, self-preservation, and envy of the participants. The scale will indicate personal values related to materialism and wealth. We will do factor analysis to confirm the validity and reliability of the variables.
Data Collection Procedure
As already stated, data collection will involve the interviewing method. We will first seek a written consent from each student before allowing him or her to participate. The notice of participation will describe the project objectives and expected outcomes.
We will send email notifications to those who will agree to participate informing them of the scheduled time and venue where the interviews will take place. Each participant will be allocated his or her time slot. On arrival, the participant will be ushered into the interview room by the interviewer. The interviewer will begin by thanking the student for agreeing to participate and invite him or her to express his or her views freely.
The first set of data that will be collected will involve the demographic details of the nine respondents. This will include age, study program, gender, socioeconomic status, year of study, and religion. The interview will be scheduled on any day of the week or weekend based on the respondent’s convenience and availability.
Each interview session will last between 30 minutes and one hour. However, this duration can be extended if the respondent is willing to discuss his/her responses further. The researchers will record the participants’ responses to the questions. Audiotapes will also be used to record verbatim messages during the interview process. The interviewer will ask leading and specific questions to probe the participant’s responses further.
Data Analysis Procedure
The data collected will be analysed using qualitative analysis techniques. The aim is to draw out insights and describe patterns of the qualitative data. The study will yield two types of data, namely, structured text (questionnaire responses) and audio recordings. The first step in qualitative analysis is organising the data to identify similarities and differences. We will transcribe the audio recordings into text data and clean it to help us identify similar information in the responses.
The next step will involve coding the data according to an identified pattern or an explanatory framework. The framework will be based on the study’s research question. Based on this framework, we will structure, code, and label the data. We will organise the responses into categories to identify recurrent themes. We will use the themes to answer our research question.
The data will be correlated with the demographic variables to identify the materialistic culture of the different groups. We will calculate the average age of the respondents as well as gender composition. We will also determine the average income of the participants. The results related to materialism will be compared with the students’ demographic variables, attitudes, and social relationships. This will indicate their personal values on material items and consumerism behaviour.
Expected Outcomes Section
The participants’ responses will indicate their materialistic attitudes and behaviour. We expect that the qualitative (thematic) analysis will find that materialism shapes cultural values, attitudes, and social relationships of the participants. We hypothesize that the students will value material items and activities indicating a pervasive materialistic culture in the UAE. In general, it is expected that the materialistic culture will influence the students’ cultural values, attitudes, and relationships.
Students who earn or receive income or allowances from their parents and relatives are expected to save more than those who do not. We expect students to save for items such as cars, clothing and shoes, leisure/travel, technology products (laptops and phones), and jewellery, among others.
Fewer students will save to pay for their college fees or bills. The purchase of the items will discern the students’ materialistic spending behaviour. With regard to the question about the importance of money, we expect more students to indicate that money is very important in their lives.
Similarly, in response to the question about how one will spend $500, we expect the students’ choices to be materialistic rather than altruistic. Material items such as shoes and clothing as well as electronics will rank high in their list of purchases. The respondents’ attitudes and values (measured through the materialism scale) will also be compared with their responses.
It is expected that those who place a higher value on money will score highly on the happiness, success, and wealth acquisition scales. They will also exhibit other traits such as possessiveness and envy. Generally, the respondents will indicate that they would be happier, if they had lots of money to buy items that they desire.
In the final report, the results of the proposed study will be presented using charts, tables, and descriptive texts. The demographics of the participants will be summarised in a table. The table will display the average age, gender composition, and income level of the respondents.
On the other hand, the verbal data will be categorised into themes and analysed using a descriptive text. We will use charts to categorise qualitatively identified items that respondents will purchase if they receive a hypothetical sum of $500. The charts will indicate the percentage of respondents who will buy various items. This will help us assess how the respondents prioritise their income.
The results on the participants’ purchase preferences will indicate their values and attitudes related to consumption. Thus, the results will answer our research question, namely, to find out how materialism shapes cultural values, attitudes, and social relationships.
The responses of the students’ towards questions on various aspects of materialism will indicate the value they place on social relationships. In addition, a comparison of their past and present attitudes towards social relationships will demonstrate how materialism has influenced their dating and interpersonal interactions.
Research findings from the proposed study will help us understand consumerism among UAE’s young adults. As hypothesised, the respondents will spend their money on material items because they exhibit materialistic attitudes, cultural values, and social relationships. Young adults in the West often value material possessions over altruistic ones.
The proposed research will assess the spread of the concept of consumerism in the UAE. Its social benefits will include helping young people adopt positive spending attitudes and values. Materialism can have adverse effects on the economy, as people perceive material items as indications of success and happiness. Thus, the findings can help socialization agents such as schools and religion to teach young adults good financial values and practices.