Participant observation is a method of collecting information and data about a culture and is carried out by the researcher immersing themselves in the culture they observing. The researcher becomes known in the community, getting to know and understand the culture in a more intimate and detailed way than would be possible from any other approach. This is done by observing and participating in the community’s daily activities. The method is so effective because the researcher is able to directly approach the people in the community in a natural context as opposed to taking the participant out of their environment. The aim of participant observation is to gain an understanding the subject’s life from their perspective, with the purpose of collecting more detailed information about a community’s habits, opinions, relationships and issues.
One of the major advantages of participant observation is the ability of the anthropologist to gain access to events, locations and intimate situations where outside observers would not be allowed. DeMunk and Sobo (1998) describe some benefits of the observation method over alternative methods of anthropological data collection including the fact that it allows admission to the “backstage culture” (DeMunk and Sobo 1998 p.43), it allows for intimately detailed description, and provides the anthropologist with opportunities to be a part of all events. DeWalt and DeWalt (2002 p.92) also suggest that it increases the quality of the data that has been collected and the interpretation of the anthropologist, as well as analysis of that data and assisting in the development of new research questions and hypotheses. However, DeMunk and Sobo (1998) also address some disadvantages of using the particip...
... middle of paper ...
...formity and Conflict: readings in cultural anthropology, 6th edn, Little Brown, Boston, pp. 34-43.
deMunck, Victor C. & Sobo, Elisa J. (Eds) (1998). Using methods in the field: a practical introduction and casebook. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
DeWalt, Kathleen M. & DeWalt, Billie R. (2002). Participant observation: a guide for fieldworkers. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Schensul, Stephen L.; Schensul, Jean J. & LeCompte, Margaret D. (1999). Essential ethnographic methods: observations, interviews, and questionnaires (Book 2 in Ethnographer's Toolkit). Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
Schultz, Emily A. & Lavenda, Robert H. 2005, Cultural Anthropology, 6th edn, Oxford University Press, New York, Chapter 3: Fieldwork.
Van Dongen, Els 2007, ‘Anthropology on Beds: the bed as the field of research’, Anthropology Today, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 23-26
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Anthropology encompasses four main aspects in the field: archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology, and cultural anthropology. All four areas must collect data and find a way to interpret the data collected. Data is then interpreted with the use of theories. The data would be useless to any anthropologist without any meaning. Theory helps an anthropologist choose what data to collect and how to interpret the results. Authors McGee and Warms assert that theory “helps us think about who and what we are as human beings,” (2).... [tags: Anthropology, Culture, Sociology]
1358 words (3.9 pages)
- STUDY UNIT 1 Question 1: What makes the discipline of anthropology qualitative in nature. Anthropology delves into the complexities of human societies, with a holistic approach to their culture and development. In doing so, the anthropological researcher ethically focuses on all human aspects and favours an approach that is centred on collecting and analysing data which is mostly non-numerical and rich in accumulative detail. Unlike in other scientific disciplines which favour quantitative research methods, anthropological researchers prefer using participant-observation techniques, as well as an emic approach in order to gain insight into the lives of the people being studied.... [tags: Anthropology, Sociology, Culture]
1504 words (4.3 pages)
- Beginning with historical particularism, it is the first American-born school of anthropology, founded by the “father of American Anthropology” Franz Boas. It was also born out of rejecting the previous social ideas of scientific racism as well as parallel evolution. Boas was originally trained in the physical sciences and shifted toward anthropology when he began to study Inuit migration patterns (McGee & Warms 2012: 112). He became an advocate of fieldwork, encouraging his students to collect detailed, in-depth studies of the culture being studied.... [tags: Anthropology, Franz Boas, Linguistic relativity]
1133 words (3.2 pages)
- The research methods in sociology and anthropology are similar yet follow a specific set of guidelines for each. Each field approaches research in a similar fashion but the methodology and intentions can differ. The differences reflect the distinct differences that are present in sociology and anthropology. The way that an anthropologist approaches a problem and attempts to solve it is different than a sociologist because of the discerning basis of their knowledge. Some of the research methods require a researcher to be up close and personal with subjects while in other methods the subject don’t even realize they are being observed.... [tags: Sociology Essays]
943 words (2.7 pages)
- Anthropology and Social Work Anthropologists like myself try to figure out why present day humans are the way they are. Meredith F. Small Female Choices Who are we. How old is the human species. Where did we come from. What do we believe and why. Is our own culture the epitome of civilization. What is reality. How have we arrived at a position where destroying the earth doesn't bother us very much. These, and many, many more are the questions that drive anthropologists to study human beings and our interactions.... [tags: Anthropology Humanity Essays]
2689 words (7.7 pages)
- For my subgroup project, I decided to observe a group of teenage boys. Located at the intersection of Fullerton and central. The location seemed like any other McDonalds except the arrangement of the sits. They have a wide range of chairs and furniture located in the side of the entrance while the front part was wide. My subgroup was located in the side of the McDonalds near the restrooms. The methods I used were participant observation, informal interviewing, and formal interviewing. While I conducted my observations on Tuesdays and Thursdays.... [tags: observation, interviewing, pattern]
1078 words (3.1 pages)
- Cultural Anthropology Almost all cultures world wide have highly developed traditions of music and dance. According to Mari Womack, author of Being Human: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, music and dance carry much importance within a culture. "As do other artistic forms, music and dance reflect cultural and social organization. Cultural values can be conveyed in the words of a song, and the performance of a song or a dance is dependent on the social context" (Womack 226). Music and instruments are of great significance in many places world wide.... [tags: Marching Band Arts Music Dance Papers]
4364 words (12.5 pages)
- The Advantages and Disadvantages of Participant Observation as a Research Method This essay will examine how participant observation is used as a research method. In the main body of this essay, this idea will be addressed by pointing out advantages and disadvantages of participant observation. I will give examples to support my argument. Participant observation is the main research method favoured by interpetitivists. It involves the researcher participating in a social group to observe and experience the world as a participant while still observing the group for future analasys of their behaviour from the researchers point of view.... [tags: Participant Observation]
493 words (1.4 pages)
- 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 (3 pages)
- Participant Observation as the Most Effective Method of Understanding Society All case studies require either overt or covert observation to collect the information necessary to complete the study. Both covert and overt have their advantages and disadvantages; they both add different but similar ideas and theories to a study. These two methods have been used in a variety of case studies but the ones that I am going to focus on are James Patrick’s study of Glasgow gang’s, Laud Humphreys study of the tea room trade in America and Ann Oakley’s study of first time pregnancy with women in the UK.... [tags: Participant Observation]
553 words (1.6 pages)