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Methodology

To connect the human and structural elements at play, a critical realist (Danermark et al. 2002) grounded theory (Charmaz 2006) framework was used. Critical realism provided a robust analytic method to examine Australian legal and institutional structures, while grounded theory methodology allowed for attending to evidence and meanings within the narratives of the South Sudanese community.

Data were collected between 2009 and 2012 through ethnographic engagement with the South Sudanese community and individual interviews with Sudanese men and women. In addition, interviews were conducted with Sudanese and non-Sudanese community workers from four Australian communities. Initial snowball and convenience sampling procedures progressed to purposive sampling as the research advanced. Altogether 41 people were interviewed, 32 of whom were from Southern Sudan and had migrated to Australia less than 10 years ago. The majority of participants were Dinka or Nuer, while a smaller proportion was from other tribes. The age range of participants was between 18 and 50, with about one-third less than 25 years old; nearly one-third of the participants were women. A third of the participants stated having a tertiary education and another third a secondary education level. Nearly half of the participants were single. The rest of the participants were married but not always cohabited with their partners. Approximately one-third of the participants were employed, and nearly all participants were pursu?ing some form of education or training. In addition, nine Sudanese and non-Sudanese community workers who had close professional connections with the community (e.g., community development workers, refugee counselors, and school specialists) were interviewed for their insights about the resettlement experiences and challenges of the group. The voice of youth is represented by young adult unmarried participants (between the ages of 16 and 25)[1] and South Sudanese youth workers, young men and women themselves who worked closely with the children and youth of their communities.

Formal interviews were between 30- and 90-minutes long. All participants were interviewed in English, which most could speak well. Data were analyzed and increasingly abstracted using the constant comparative methods of grounded theory. Although interviews were the primary source of data, this was augmented and informed through regular attendance at community meetings, celebrations, and church services as part of the ethnographic fieldwork. This use of multiple methods and data sources brought layered, yet convergent, meanings to the research.

  • [1] Unmarried men and women in their 20s are considered youth in South Sudanese cultures; theylive with their family and are subject to their parents’ authority (Deng 1972, 1990; Hutchinson1996).
 
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