Sociological Research Methods: Observations

Useful for AS Sociology- research methods

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  • Created by: Sophie
  • Created on: 31-01-10 13:54

Types of observations

Non-participant observation- the researcher will observe the group but will not take part.

Participant observation- the researcher will take part in the event.

Overt observation- researcher will tell the group that he/she is doing a study.

Covert observation- the researcher will be 'under-cover' and not tell the group he/she is doing a study.

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Practical issues

It may be unsafe to study a particular group, especially when studying deviance or street gangs.

However, it can be used instead of a questionnaire. In questionnaires people can lie or may not be able to read.

Observations are useful when studying occupational groups. e.g factory workers.

The Researcher may already be a member of the group being studied, which could make things difficult.

After a while, the researcher may be able to perform unstructured interviews without the interviewee noticing.

The researcher could get too involved in the group.

Researcher may have to abandon the study. e.g In Glasgow, Patrick abandoned his study when the gang he was studying got too violent and sickening.

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Ethical issues

Covert observations go against informed consent. However, research could be impossible if group members know who you are.

There could be identity issues, changing the names of those being studied may not be enough.

The group could be harmed- could is result in them being arrested?

Can the information be published?

Should the researcher tell the police about serious matters?

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Theoretical issues

=] observations are valid because participants behave as they would normally. they take the view point of the participant. they dig deep into social interaction/

=[ observations are not reliable because they cannot be checked or repeated. it's hard to study people on a large scale so may not be representative.

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Comments

lorna

thank you was really clear

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