'it Is Impossible To Be Both A Participant And An Observer.' How Far Do You Agree?

997 words - 4 pages

Observational studies are a qualitative method of research. It is a method which we all, as members of society and inquirers into our own society and culture, have experience of in the sense that such an ability to observe and reflect on what is going on around is an essential part of our being competent in our culture. Observation aims to look further than this. (S. Ackroyd & J.Hughs: 127) It allows a researcher to study a group in its natural setting and, moreover, for far longer and in more depth than is possible with other research strategies.There are two main types of observational methods that are participant observation, and non-participant observation. In participant ...view middle of the document...

Being overt is being truthful to the group being studied, as they know why they will be studied. Research can be ruined if the overt participant observer is uncovered. A crucial advantage for using overt methods is that if the research was participating in immoral or illegal study, the researcher will be able to avoid participating. Whereas in covert the researcher would have to get involved in such behavior, which could put the researcher in serious danger. Being truthful and honest to the group being studied could build a trustful and friendly relationship between the researcher and the group and so the group will be more likely to be fully open to the researcher.One of the major disadvantages of being open is that it may affect the behavior of those being studied. As the group knows that they are being studied and all their actions are being watched they may change their behavior, as they might feel uncomfortable being watched for example. The knowledge that they are being observed can influence people's behavior, as they become more self-conscious and think about the actions.An obvious advantage therefore of covert participant observation is that the members of the group being studied are not likely to change their behavior and actions because they don't know they are being watched and observed by someone for research purposes. Some studies may not be possible because without participant observation being covert, either because the group would change its behavior, or because the researcher would not be allowed to join in to study the group in the first place.There can also be problems with using the covert observation. An example is the case of field notes in the lavatory. The research carried out by Ditton (19770 on 'fiddling' in a bakery is an example which shows practical...

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