Participant observation

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  • Created by: greggs25
  • Created on: 28-02-15 16:58
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  • Advantage of participant observation
    • Validity:  it  provides a rich source of qualitative data, by which we can see what people actually do rather than what they do.
      • It gives the researcher a chance for subjective understanding. this is because they can put them selves in the individual shoes.
    • it may be the only appropriate method for studying certain groups. it allows them to build a rapport with the group and gain its trust. it has proved a successful method of studying delinquent gangs and football hooligans.
      • Disadvantages of participant observations
  • Validity:  it  provides a rich source of qualitative data, by which we can see what people actually do rather than what they do.
    • It gives the researcher a chance for subjective understanding. this is because they can put them selves in the individual shoes.
  • Participant observation
    • Advantage of participant observation
      • it may be the only appropriate method for studying certain groups. it allows them to build a rapport with the group and gain its trust. it has proved a successful method of studying delinquent gangs and football hooligans.
        • Disadvantages of participant observations
  • Whyte(1955) notes that it allowed him to learn answers to questions which couldn't be asked in an interview.
    • it gives the researcher an opportunity to explore new topics during the research as they do not have a schedule.
    • Yalonsky (1973) points out, a teenage gang is likely to see researchers who come armed with questionnaires as the unwelcome representatives of authority
      • Practical disadvantages: it is very time consuming. Whyte's study too him four years to complete.
        • the research can be stressful and demanding especially if covert.
          • if covert the researcher may have to rely on memory.
            • Personal characteristics such as, age, gender or ethnicity may play a role in the types of groups which can be studied.
              • Ethical problems: deception and  the researcher may have to take part in illegal activities.
                • Representativeness: the sample is usually selected haphazardly and it is also small which doesn't give a sound basis for generalisations.
                  • Bias: the researcher may withhold sensitive information due to fear of reprisals and also group loyalties. they may also give a one sided or biased view of the group.
      • the researcher needs to be trained so as to be able to recognise aspects of a situation that are sociologically significant and worth further attention.
        • Practical disadvantages: it is very time consuming. Whyte's study too him four years to complete.
          • the research can be stressful and demanding especially if covert.
            • if covert the researcher may have to rely on memory.
              • Personal characteristics such as, age, gender or ethnicity may play a role in the types of groups which can be studied.
                • Ethical problems: deception and  the researcher may have to take part in illegal activities.
                  • Representativeness: the sample is usually selected haphazardly and it is also small which doesn't give a sound basis for generalisations.
                    • Bias: the researcher may withhold sensitive information due to fear of reprisals and also group loyalties. they may also give a one sided or biased view of the group.
      • Positivists disagree with the notion that this method produces valid data as they say it is based on the observers subjective and biased impressions.

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