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Participant Observation: Understanding Society Essay

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Assess the usefulness of participant observation in sociological
research.

In this short essay I will give a skilled weighed argument of the
usefulness and non-usefulness of a participant observation. I will
back up the points made during this piece with sociologists I have
studied. After, which I will then reach a conclusion where I will
justify the argument in depth.

Observation means watching behaviour in real-life settings. A covert
participant observation is when the subject(s) you’re studying doesn’t
know that you’re actually studying them. An overt participant
observation means that the subject(s) you’re studying are aware of the
fact that you’re studying them.

There are many reasons why a participant observation is seen as a very
useful way to gather research. This is because you are taking part
with the observation and would therefore be able to really get an
insight into the topic you’re studying.

Also if it is a covert participant observation you’re more likely to
gather valid data as the subject(s) being studied don’t have any idea
of the reason for your presence and, what’s more, the subject(s) can’t
mislead the researcher.

Ned Polsky did a study of hustler beats. It was a covert participant
observation which meant that he was free to ask questions without
arousing suspicion. Also he believed it gave him a real accurate in
sight to the behaviour behind his study. This is where you see why not
involving the subject(s) gives you a better perspective on your study
as you are getting a true account of their reasons and behaviour
towards society.

Another sociologist, Jason Ditton, also found that keeping...


... middle of paper ...


...up’s and downs. It is
very useful if you wanted to get valid data as you can really get to
know someone with a participant observation however you can only study
a small sample so your data won’t be representative of the whole
population not to mention the fact that you cannot repeat a
participant observation and therefore it lacks reliability as well.

What’s more observations of all sorts can be very time consuming and
expensive so you need to make sure that nothing can go wrong otherwise
you would have wasted a lot of your time as well as others.

Although with a participant observation you know you’re getting first
hand data, especially if it’s a covert participant observation as your
subjects won’t know your studying them so the behaviour of your
subjects can’t be influenced a certain way by the researcher.





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Participant Observation: Understanding Society Essay - Assess the usefulness of participant observation in sociological research. In this short essay I will give a skilled weighed argument of the usefulness and non-usefulness of a participant observation. I will back up the points made during this piece with sociologists I have studied. After, which I will then reach a conclusion where I will justify the argument in depth. Observation means watching behaviour in real-life settings. A covert participant observation is when the subject(s) you’re studying doesn’t know that you’re actually studying them....   [tags: Participant Observation] 1065 words
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