Participant observation sociology essays pdf
A further important ethical issue concerns the question of working covertly. Whatever its advantages, as Schatzman and Strauss (1973, p. 62) argue, participant observation with a hidden identity does raise ethical problems that are not easily resolved. It may be argued that if in adopting this research tactic we gain new insights; that the end justifies the means. However, the ethical problem of recording individuals without their knowledge remains. The moral dilemma is not necessarily overcome by making known one’s presence as a researcher to those who are the subjects of the study. As Hargreaves (1967) points out, a certain amount of deception is inevitable in participant observation; it was when the teachers appeared to treat him as a friend rather than a researcher that the most significant things were said.
In sociology, participant observation is a form of ..
Discussion of research ethics for projects in Sociology, Anthropology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Work and Criminology. There are links to various useful documents: Research Ethics Proposal, Participant Information Sheet, Sample Consent Form, Risk Assessment Proforma. A resource developed in partnership by the Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics, the Centre for Social Work and Policy and Sheffield Hallam University
Lincoln Williams (1988, p.136) warns us of the possible paternalism entailed in participant observation, and ‘the arrogance of the researcher invading another group’s world to get information in order to relay it to the outside world’. Williams is referring here to the question of power relations within the research arena. Wolpe (1988, p.160) notes in her study of schooling and sexuality that ‘the type of information boys would give a female researcher is likely to differ from that given to a male researcher’. In his study of white girls, Meyenn (1979, quoted in Wolpe) found that private areas of their lives were not discussed with him. More importantly, as feminist and black writers argue, in the past researchers have reified the research process with truth claims based on appeals to scientific objectivity and technical expertise, which serve to make invisible the complex internal sets of power relations in operation (Griffin, 1986; and Bhavnani, 1991). Mac an Ghaill comments that is his own work: