Theoretical issues in participant observations: POSITIVISM

A summary of the positivism's view of participant observations.

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  • Created by: Sian
  • Created on: 01-12-12 09:45
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  • Positivism: participant observations
    • Representation
      • Groups studied are usually very small
      • 'sample' usually picked haphazardly
        • For example through a chance informant encounter
      • Thus causing samples to be un-representative of the wider population
      • not suitable for making generalisations
    • Reliablility
      • unsystematic and lacking in reliability
        • not a standardized scientific measuring equiptment
          • Whyte recognized his methods were unique
            • impossible for other researchers to check original studies
      • success depends on personal skills
      • Qualitative data hard to analyse
      • cannot be confident on findings being true
        • impossible for other researchers to check original studies
    • bias and lack of objectivity
      • Risks of 'going native'
        • Over identifying with the group
        • Biased and over symathetic view  will be shown
      • Involvement leads to loyalty to the group
        • trying to conceal sensitive information
          • This is denying readers and objective account of the research
      • Usually studied from the 'underdogs' pont of view.
        • Causing it to be subjective and biased.
    • Lack of validity
      • The results are recorded from the observers point of view
      • Findings are selected by the observer.
        • This is  decided upon by the observers own norms and values
      • They collect masses of qualitative data, what is ommited is decided by the researcher.
    • The hawthorne effect
      • The observers presence may make the subjects act differently.
      • defeats the central 'naturalistic' aim of the observation.
      • Even in covert studies, the presence of an extra member might change the groups behavior.


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