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research methods in the social sciences participant observation ethnography n.
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Research Methods in the Social Sciences Participant Observation & Ethnography PowerPoint Presentation
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Research Methods in the Social Sciences Participant Observation & Ethnography

Research Methods in the Social Sciences Participant Observation & Ethnography

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Research Methods in the Social Sciences Participant Observation & Ethnography

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  1. Research Methods in the Social Sciences Participant Observation & Ethnography

  2. Outline • Participant Observation (PO) – what is it? • Ethnography, what’s that? • Historical notes • Why • Methods: • Overt • Covert • Issues • Practice

  3. Ethnography / Participant Observation

  4. Definitions • Participant Observation: • Research in which the researcher immerses himself or herself in a social setting for an extended period of time, observing behaviour, listening to what is said in conversations both between others and with the field-worker and asking questions. • Ethnography: • All the above plus the written output.

  5. History • Early 19th Century studies centred around understanding the Other: • Native tribes • Malinowski (1922) • Working class • Engels (1845) • Mayhew (1861) • Booth (1889) • Rowntree (1899) • Examples of direct observation

  6. Direct Observation vs Participant Observation • Quantitative technique • Counting frequency • Or intensity of behaviours • Can be audio / video • Observable behaviour • Qualitative technique • Interactive • Exploratory • Explanatory • Interpretative • Why questions

  7. Direct Observation vs Participant Observation “An observer is under the bed. A participant is in it”

  8. Why Participant Observation • Only participants can observe some events • Reducing the problem of reactivity • Embedded in the social context • Understanding the meaning of the data • Establish topics of inquiry • Avoid self-report bias • Identify routine behaviours • Seeing behaviour first hand

  9. Methods: overt • Researcher is open with the group • Access is easier • Easier to record data • Less likely to ‘go native’ • However: • Involvement may be superficial • Group may change behaviour

  10. Methods: covert • Observer effect avoided • Greater personal experience • More likely to observe deviance • However: • Access an issue (researcher must have similar characteristics) • Might ‘go native’ • Cannot openly record data • Ethics (spying)

  11. Issues • Hawthorne Effect • Ethics • Entering the field • ‘going native’ • Leaving the field • Commentators vs players

  12. Practice • Choose your field • Overt or covert? • How to collect data • Entry: • Via a key informer • Solo • Totally open • Prior negotiation • What to observe? • Exit: • Make a clean break • Negotiated exit • Exit with thanks • Return visits