Participant observation def. and demostration copy

Participant observation def. and demostration copy - Daniel...

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Daniel Uribe September 24, 2007 Sociology 101H Professor Dowden Participant observation is a method of research that involves going out into an environment with a specific group of people who share something in common (churches, schools, malls, theme parks, etc.) Then, becoming a member of that environment, by casually interacting with its people and participating in the activities they carry out, while simultaneously taking notes on different aspects of the environment. These “field notes”, should not only depict the cultural environment’s symbols, language, values, and norms; but also identify its social structure. All of this is done, with the purpose of becoming personally familiar with the culture of the environment, and to acquire an emphatic understanding of the practiced traditions; In other words, to posses the point of view of a participant. 1. Choose your location: Pick a place and focus attention on what is happening in the environment. 2. Take notes while still an outsider: People will not expect much of you and they will see you as a mere “incompetent, tourist or outsider”(Laurier). This is critical, because it will allows you to compare how people treat you before and after being accepted. Also, after becoming used to the surroundings, these notes will help you recall what seemed peculiar at the beginning. 3. Observe : While the environment is still unfamiliar, or even if it already is, try to pay lots of attention to things that you would usually ignore “notice things that
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otherwise escape attention and observe them carefully” (Laurier). 4. Participate : Get involved and take part in what you are observing “Do not watch research subjects in a detached, emotionless manner.” According to Laurier, this will bring objective results. Instead participant observation’s aim is to acquire the point of view of the participant through interaction with their environment. 5. Take field-notes promptly: Notes should not be written too long after conditions have been observed because it will make it much harder to write and make it almost impossible to record enough details. 6. Take field-notes secretly: One should not openly display the fact that they are taking notes when dealing with a sensitive topic. As Laurier explains, “There are sensitive settings where you will want to keep your status as a researcher more low key. In such an event you may end up scribbling notes in the toilet, or in the
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course ENGLISH ? taught by Professor Dowden,hindman,welsh,leiby during the Fall '07 term at El Camino.

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Participant observation def. and demostration copy - Daniel...

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