OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH

OBSERVATIONAL RESEARCH IS A GENERAL TERM THAT COVERS A RANGE OF OF DIFFERENT RESEARCH TECHNIQUES.

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Tashan
  • Created on: 17-05-09 16:35

PARTICIPATION OBSERVTION01

ADVANTAGES

EXPERIENCE-PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION ALLOWS THE RESEARCHER TO JOIN THE GROUP FULLY AND SEE THINGS THROUGH THE EYES (AND ACTIONS) OF THE PEOPLE IN THE GROUP.THE RESEARCHER IS PLACED IN EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION AS THE GROUP UNDER STUDY, FULLY EXPERIENCING WHAT IS HAPPENING.THIS RESULTS THE RESEARCHER SEEING SOCIAL LIFE FROM THE SAME PERSPECTIVE AS THE GROUP.

GENERATING NEW IDEAS-OFTEN THIS COULD LEAD TO COMPLETELY NEW INSIGHTS AND GENERATE NEW THEORETICAL IDEAS, UNLIKE TRADITIONAL RESEARCH, WHICH UNDERTAKES THE STUDY IN ORDER TO EXPLORE AN EXISTING THEORY OR HYPOTHESIS.

REACHING INTO DIFFICULT AREAS-PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION IS NORMALLY USED TO OBTAIN RESEARCH INFORMATION ON HARD-TO-REACH GROUPS, SUCH AS RELIGOUS SECTS.


1 of 4

PARTICIPATION OBSERVTION02

GETTING THE TRUTH-ONE OF THE PROBLEMS WITH QUESTIONNAIRES, AND TO LESSER EXTENT WITH INTERVIEWS, IS THAT THE RESPONDENT CAN LIE.PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION PREVENTS THIS BECAUSE THE RESEARCHER CAN SEE THE PERSON IN ACTION - IT MAY ALSO HELP THEM UNDERSTAND WHY THE PERSON WOULD LIE IN A QUESTIONNAIRE OR INTERVIEW.

DIGGING DEEP-PARTICIPANT OBSEVERATION CAN CREATE A CLOSE BOND BETWEEN THE RESEARCHER AND THE GROUP UNDER STUDY, AND INDIVIDUALS IN THE GROUP MAY BE PREPARED TO CONFIDE IN THE RESEARCHER ON ISSUES AND VIEWS THAT WOULD USUALLY REMAIN HIDDEN.

DYNAMIC-QUESTIONNAIRES AND INTERVIEWS ARE 'STATIC' - THEY ARE ONLY ABLE TO GAIN AN UNDERSTANDING OF A PERSON'S BEHAVIOUR OR ATTITUDES AT THE PRECISE MOMENT OF THE INTERVIEW.PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION TAKES PLACE OVER A PERIOD OF TIME AND ALLOWS AN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR AND ATTITUDES TAKE PLACE.

2 of 4

PARTICIPATION OBSERVTION03

DISADVANTAGES

BIAS-THE MAIN PROBLEM LIES WITH BIAS, AS THE OBSERVER CAN BE DRAWN INTO THE GROUP AND START TO SEE THINGS THROUGH THEIR EYES.

THIS MAY BLIND THE OBSERVER TO THE INSIGHTS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BE AVAILABLE.

INFLUENCE OF THE RESEARCHER-THE PRESENCE OF THE RESEARCHER MAY MAKE THE GROUP ACT LESS NATURALLY AS THEY ARE AWARE OF BEING STUDIED.

THIS IS LESS LIKELY TO OCCUR IF THE RESEARCHER IS OPERATING COVERTLY.

ETHICS-IF THE RESEARCHER IS STUDYING A GROUP ENGAGED IN DEVIANT BEHAVIOUR, THEN THERE IS A MORAL ISSUE OF HOW FAR THE RESEARCHER SHOULD BE DRAWN INTO THE ACTIVITIES OF THE GROUP-PARTICULARY IF THESE ACTIVITIES ARE IMMORAL OR ILLEGAL.

3 of 4

PARTICIPATION OBSERVTION04

PROOF-CRITICS HAVE POINTED OUT THAT THERE IS NO WAY OF KNOWING OBJECTIVELY WHETHER THE FINDINGS OF PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION ARE ACTUALLY TRUE OR NOT, SINCE THERE IS NO POSSIBLITY OF REPLICATING RESEARCH.

THE RESULTS MAY LACK RELIABILITY.

TOO SPECIFIC-PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION IS USUALLY USED TO STUDY SMALL GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT TYPICAL OF THE WIDER POPULATION.

IT IS THEREFORE DIFFICULT TO CLAIM THAT THE FINDINGS CAN BE GENERALISED ACROSS THE POPULATION AS A WHOLE.

STUDYING THE POWERLESS-ALMOST ALL PARTICIPANT OBSERVATIONAL STUDIES ARE CONCERNED WITH THE LEAST POWERFUL GROUPS IN SOCIETY-TYPICALLY GROUPS OF YOUNG MALES OR FEMALES WHO ENGAGE IN DEVIANT ACTIVITIES.

SOME CRITICS ARGUE THAT INFORMATION OBTAINED DOES NOT HELP US TO UNDERSTAND THE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES IN SOCIETY.

4 of 4

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Sociological research methods resources »