Advantages + Disadvantages of Participant Observations

  • Created by: Ben
  • Created on: 14-12-12 16:07

Participant Observations


  • Experience - Allows the researcher to see through the eyes of the research group, see the same perspectives as group members.
  • Generating new ideas - Leads to new insights  and generate new ideas unlike traditional research.
  • Getting the truth - Participant observation means there is no lies as the researcher can see the person in action.
  • Digging deep - Close bond is form between participant and researcher making participant likely to reveal a lot more.
  • Dynamic - Participant observations are not 'static' as they take place over a period of time and allows attitudes to change.
  • Reaching into different areas - Participant observations obtain research from hard-to-reach groups of people.


  • Bias - The observer can be taken in which allows no futher information to be revealed.
  • Influence of the researcher - The presence of a researcher may make the group reveal a lot less as they are aware of being studied.
  • Ethics - How far should the researcher be drawn into the activities of the group?
  • Proof - Whether or not what the researcher has found out is true or  not.
  • Too specific - Observations are of such a smaller group and not of the wider population.
  • Studying the powerless - The information obtained does not always help us to understand the more important issues within society.


A participant observation is where the sociologist joins a group of people and studies their behaviour and actions.


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