The hen and chicken approach to multicultural research

Date of publication: September 1, 1994

Author: Danie Malan


This paper gives an overview of the complexity of South African society, with special reference to cultural, language and geographical differences. It clearly illustrates that South Africa has a variety of cultures similar to the United Europe - but in one country. It discusses the difficulties being experienced with multicultural research in respect of habits, traditions, body language and the application of Westernised methodology to a non-Westemised community. These difficulties have lead to the development of a research method which gives consideration to the realities and challenges of a multicultural society. Furthermore, it has not cost an exorbitant amount to create an infrastructure. The expertise and existing infrastructure of the in-house research department of Nasionale Tydskrifte is the foundation of the Hen-and-Chicken (H-a-C) method. People living in the various societies are recruited, and are then the contact persons (Hens) in that specific community. Questionnaires are sent to them by mail and they are requested to distribute them to respondents (the Chickens) according to specific instructions. Control over the Hens and sample control were two of the major pitfalls identified during exploratory work. Some of the major advantages are that this method addresses the multicultural issues satisfactorily and utilises an existing infrastructure, therefore making it a cost effective method.

Danie Malan


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