Researchers are encouraged to record their personal thoughts and feelings about the subject of study. This same method of study has also been applied to groups within Western society, and is especially successful in the study of sub-cultures or groups sharing a strong sense of identity, where only by taking part may the observer truly get access to the lives of those being studied.
Participant Observation Type Chart.
Method and practice[ edit ] Such research involves a range of well-defined, though variable methods: It has as a result become specialized. Howell  states that it is important to become friends, or at least be accepted in the community, in order to obtain quality data.
By living with the cultures they studied, researchers were able to formulate first hand accounts of their lives and gain novel insights. Types of participant observation[ edit ] Participant observation is not simply showing up at a site and writing things down. In response to these challenges, some ethnographers have refined their methods, either making them more amenable to formal hypothesis-testing and replicability, or framing their interpretations within a more carefully considered epistemology.
Spradley  provides five different types of participant observations summarised below. Visual anthropology can be viewed as a subset of methods of participant-observation, as the central questions in that field have to do with how to take a camera into the field, while dealing with such issues as the observer effect.
It emerged as the principal approach to ethnographic research by anthropologists and relied on the cultivation of personal relationships with local informants as a way of learning about a culture, involving both observing and participating in the social life of a group.
One of the first things that a researcher or individual must do after deciding to conduct participant observations to gather data is decide what kind of participant observer he or she will be. Evans-Pritchard and Margaret Mead  in the first half of the twentieth century.
Recording Observations and Data interviews reflexivity journals: On the contrary, participant observation is a complex method that has many components. Although the method is generally characterized as qualitative researchit can and often does include quantitative dimensions.
Traditional participant observation is usually undertaken over an extended period of time, ranging from several months to many years, and even generations.
It is important for the researcher to connect or show a connection with the population in order to be accepted as a member of the community. In the Field Do as the locals do: Since the s, some anthropologists and other social scientists have questioned the degree to which participant observation can give veridical insight into the minds of other people.
Observable details like daily time allotment and more hidden details like taboo behavior are more easily observed and interpreted over a longer period of time.History and development.
Participant observation was used extensively by Frank Hamilton Cushing in his study of the Zuni Indians in the later part of the nineteenth century, followed by the studies of non-Western societies by people such as Bronisław Malinowski, E.E.
Evans-Pritchard, and Margaret Mead in the first half of the twentieth.Download