• Participant observation is research conducted where the sociologist participates in the activities of the group being studied.
• Used by interpretivists as observation collects qualitative data.
• Micro research approach – looks at a small section of society instead of the whole.
• Validity – data collected is at its most valid when the group being studied is in its normal social setting.
• Observing normal social routines is more likely to produce an authentic result than asking questions as often what people say and what they do are completely different.
• True for only covert PO, as in overt PO, knowing the researchers identity may change behaviour
• Practical issues – covert observation is hard to sustain as it requires keeping your presence a secret for a long period of time. This may require leaving a job or a family. It can also be costly in terms of paying somebody for access. If the group being researched is dangerous or criminal, then there is a danger for the researcher that they may be harmed if found out. Recording info can be difficult in certain situations.
• Practical – overt. The group could refuse access to a researcher and this means they may become suspicious of any people who then try to join their group.
• Theoretical – covert. If the researcher is discovered then the whole research may be jeopardised . Group member status allows researcher to dig deeper and access to some aspects of groups behaviour may be only available in secret.
• Theoretical – overt. Questions can be openly asked to clarify meanings. Researcher may have more freedom within the group to ask questions and not be suspected.
• Ethical – covert. There is no informed consent – the participants are not asked whether they wished to take part. Overt – sound because consent is obtained.
• Patrick joined a Glasgow gang covertly in order to study behaviour patterns. However, after he refused to carry a weapon they...