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What if your hypothesis isn't really being proven.... at all? Watch

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    I'm in the final year of my undergraduate study, currently writing my dissertation. It's 10,000 words, and the topic I have chosen is homophobic attitudes in Russia. Of course I had to take a specific angle as it is only 10,000 words, and the theory which I chose to work on is whether there is a link between homophobic attitudes and anti-Westernisation in Russia.

    Obviously I had to show that there was enough literature on my topic, and indeed I was able to write a literature review on how a 'Global gay' culture has emerged from the West, and then how there has been anti-Western sentiment amongst certain Russians when talking about homosexuals . So while I was aware that my topic is indeed very narrow, it wasn't something I just pulled out of my head either. All in all, I felt it was an interesting thing worth exploring, so I pursued it and wrote my literature review. Indeed there needed to be an adequate methodology and findings, so I decided I would do some primary research. I achieved this by interviewing 10-12 Russians, some homosexual, some heterosexual. The interviews were mainly conducted through skype, and consisted of 12-15 general questions + discussion, with the main theme being the 'Westernisation' issue.

    The interviews went well, and I got a lot interesting perspectives on homophobic atttidues in Russia ... But whenever I discussed this 'Anti-Westernisation' theme, they were just a bit like 'eh, em, well, I guess'. I have a few opinions, but most people didn't really seem to think it was valid. It's not like they thought Russia is banning stuff such as gay prides because politicians and nationalists believe ''it belongs in the western world'', nor did they think it was a popular belief amongst Russians that homosexuality was a 'Western import'.... they were just very very netural on it, and a bit 'meh'.

    So as it is, I don't really have that much findings on the hypothesis I am trying to prove. My dissertation is due in 3 weeks..... The thought of 'taking a new angle' on homophobia in Russia which I have found in the interviews, is very unappealing. It would mean I have to write my literature review all over again, and basically start my dissertation from scratch. Do you suggest I just go with what I have in regards to the westernisation argument, or........?

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    I think you need to work out where the issue is before you can work out how to make the best of what you've got.

    You presumably have a dissertation supervisor so go talk to them as well, it's what they are there for.

    Were your question perhaps the problem? It might be it is the case but people don't really realise it. You know like when you discover a new concept and you need to think it through a bit but then it clicks that it's obviously right? You sprung this idea on them so without processing it could be hard for them to say. But hopefully you asked questions which indicate their thoughts on homophobia which you can link to Westernisation even if they are unable to make the link themselves. You might have something interesting to say about why they don't explicitly think it.

    Or could it be the people who you chose/managed to get hold of weren't representative? If so then you can question why and maybe make it more about the difference in perception? It's not my area of expertise at all but presumably there are certain factors that contribute to Russians being likely to be particularly anti-Westernistation so how do they relate to the people you interviewed and their perspective?

    Or do you now really think your hypothesis is wrong? It's ok to write a dissertation which says 'I thought X but found Y which suggests the case is actually Z because it's a bit more complicated than I initially realised so there are areas for further research'. If your hypothesis is based on the suggestion of existing work (so you can justify having thought it in the first place) then it's also ok to disprove it so long as you can say to what extent you disproved it- don't try and claim you totally disproved something established academics believe based on 10 interviews.
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