Research Methods: Observation

Subjective Sociology

Complete the exercise and print. Then Try the two matching exercises linked from the bar at the top of the page

behaves deviant ethical expensive full join normal objective presence qualitative recorder reliability representative small superficial unscientific valid valid
Observational methods generate data which may not be reliable but tends to be . It is particularly useful for studying groups, or in situations where interviews and questionnaire may not be appropriate e.g. surveying the attitudes of very young children.
There are two types of observational technique; non participant and participant. Often both methods may be used at the same time.

The researcher observes the group but does not in with the group. The researcher will follow the group around and ask questions often recording information on a tape or video .

1. The researcher is able to study a group it would be difficult to study in another way
2. The researcher is able to study the group and how it in an everyday situation - right where the action is!

1. The research findings may lack i.e. could not be repeated with the same results and could therefore be seen as unreliable and
2. Observations may be if the researcher does not join in fully with the group.
3. Only numbers of people can be surveyed at a time
4. It is time consuming, hard work and .
5. The Hawthorne Effect - the researcher may influence the group to behave in a different way to . In his famous Hawthorne Studies of worker productivity in 1924 Elton Mayo found that his had a direct positive effect on the productivity of the workers he was studying whatever he did!

Participant Observation
In this case the researcher joins the group as a member and is accepted as thus by the group.
1. Rich and highly valid data - really right where the action is!
1. The researcher may get too involved and lose their ability to be
2. Data not as for non participant observation
3. The group studied is usually too small to be
4. There are problems especially if the group is involved in illegal activities.