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SY 281OC: Qualitative Research Methods II Participant Observation Analysis of the Coffee Shop Sonia Martina Petrozza 140958100 20 March 2017
Introduction Social interaction plays a very important role in our everyday lives. We interact and share an exchange with strangers and people we know on a daily basis. This is how we learn to communicate with one another based on our beliefs and social standings, helping to build a social relationship. John Lofland and his associates in Analyzing Social Settings: A Guide to Qualitative Observation and Analysis , define a social relationship as “two parties who interact with some interdependence and who view themselves as ‘connected’ to one another, however firefly” (Lofland et al, 126). As an unknown investigator in a quasi-public social setting, I observed the performances of various actors as a covert participant in a coffee shop. A quasi- public setting is referred to as anywhere where an open observation can be conducted, however unlike a public setting where it is easier to conform and blend into the social behaviours, ones “behaviour is more constrained by the functions of the setting, participants must engage in some subset of setting specific behaviour” (Lofland et al, 36). The coffee shop setting in which I chose to observe was Coffee Culture Café & Eatery in Kitchener, Ontario; Thursday March 9 th , 2017 from 2:30 to 4:00 PM. When walking into this quasi-public social setting the usual behaviourism is to first order your coffee/drink and or food and then find a spot to sit or the other way around, but regardless you order something if you plan on sitting inside the facility, and that is what I did. I placed myself in the booth beside the door so I could have a view of the order counter and a view of the rest of the café, without making it obvious that I was observing. There are many different people that surround me and this quasi-public social setting, that is a coffee shop, it displays a wide array of social actors and how their mannerisms and social symbols collide and work together to conform to their surroundings. Although these observations and research was recorded in a quasi-public setting, there are still some restrictions and barriers that come about. A 2
coffee shop as large as this one, with a constant flow of incoming and outgoing people, whether they take a seat to enjoy their coffee or they are taking it to go, can cause one to go into information overload. It is also hard ethically to eavesdrop on others conversation because one may feel as if they are deceiving the observants around them. However, there are benefits from this type of observation as well, such as non-invasive and is not tended to be predominant over the observants. Research Methods I conducted my social study in the qualitative research method manner. This means that I worked together with naturalistic studies in order to prepare for my research, observe and record my observations. In this type of field study “you look at and/or listen to people either because the

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