Essay on Participant Observation: Understanding Society

Essay on Participant Observation: Understanding Society

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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. I am going to look at how
participant observation was used in these three studies and whether
the researcher used overt or covert observation to achieve the aim of
the case study.

In the first study I will look at is Laud Humphreys study of the tea
room trade in America in which the researcher Laud Humphreys used
covert observation, covert observation is where the researcher doesn’t
allow the person that they are studying to know that they are studying
them, this can be done in a variety of situations but seeing as though
this particular research piece was done on a very delicate subject the
researcher was probably better of to use covert than overt, the
activity that he was studying is illegal in America therefore
ethically the piece of research was wrong and he shouldn’t of taken
part to the level that he did ( his role was as a watch queen to see
if any officials were coming) however sometimes the rules have to be
broken to achieve the results wanted. Also as the researcher took down
car registration plates to see what sort of people actuall...

... middle of paper ... on them one good thing about
this is that this way of doing research gets more in depth information
for people as they know that you are researching them and therefore
they are more willing to talk however they also may not it just
depends on the person, Ann Oakley used interviews to do her piece of
research and also used questionnaires she did her research from this
method research is better than covert as the participants are more
likely and more willing to talk to you.

In my opinion overt research is better than covert research as it
allows you to get a more in depth account of the person involved’s
opinions and views and it also gives more information for the piece of
research. Both covert and overt observation techniques are useful in
helping the research to do the research and achieve the result

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