(a) Examine the reasons why some sociologists chose not to use overt observation when conducting research (20)
When using overt observation, a group may refuse the researcher permission to observe them or may stop the observer from seeing anything. In practical terms, overt observation is relatively cheap and effective, however, it is time consuming for the researcher and as their identity is revealed to the group that was being researched. This may cause the group to not allow them access in case they get in trouble, thus, this way of researching could result in a waste of time with the researcher not collecting any needed information.
Another disadvantage of overt research may be the ‘Hawthorne’ effect which is, if people know that they are being studied, their behaviour will challenge as they may second guess what the observer wants from them and will act accordingly. This will ruin the research and will undermine the validity of the data. Again, this will prove to be a waste of time for the observer because they will have to start from scratch on how to obtain the data they need, resulting in their financial and time elements in the research being wasted.
As some sociologists would prefer to use other methods of research, covert research may prove to be more advantageous than overt in some cases. One advantage of using covert research is that it reduces the risk of changing people’s behaviour significantly and will therefore gain valid information for the researcher. The main advantage of this method is that it allows for natural behaviour that would be lost if overt research was conducted.
A major theoretical limitation of overt participation observation is the lack of representativeness, since it is generally only possible to study small, untypical groups. It is also likely to be unreliable because they can be very hard to standardise and so the research conducted will be unlikely be replicated.
Interpretivists favour unstructured achieves...