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Parkers participant observation describes The Boys everyday lives but what else does it do? Critically consider the impact of the study and its relevance to theory, methodology, and policy.

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Introduction

Parker's participant observation describes 'The Boys' everyday lives but what else does it do? Critically consider the impact of the study and it's relevance to theory, methodology, and policy. In this essay I will be looking at the observational study carried out by Howard Parker, 'A View from the Boys' (1947). In this study Parker covertly participated to find out about the lives of a gang of adolescent boys from Liverpool. The study was looking into the sub-culture aspect of crime and deviance with a strong hold of Functionalism. Both the Functionalist and the sub-culture theories stress the learning of norms and values are crucial to the relation to crime committed. The sub-culture in Parker's study focused on the behaviour and beliefs of the boys that he studied that differentiated them from the public generally. The sub-culture in a 'View from the Boys' came about due to the boys being in a gang and separating themselves from the rest of the public and engaging themselves in criminal behaviour. It is possible to see that it would have been difficult for Parker to have gained access to the group. This is a difficult aspect of participant observation as the observer cannot go into a group without them being curious, which would affect their behaviour and would question the validity of the study. However, in Parkers case he was easily able to gain access as he had met some of the boys previously at a country holiday centre set up for Liverpool's deprived children. In addition to this it was necessary that Parker would fit in with the boys. ...read more.

Middle

As it can be seen in Roundhouse that the community was made up of large families that were knit up together by blood and marriage, it is possible to see that there was a certain element of social solidarity where the boy's future was concerned. All the families in the Roundhouse accepted the fact that the boys were not going to get a good job and this normalised criminality. This was giving a clear account of what actually took place in the Liverpool slums, rather then relying on the media or stereotypical views that were bought about the 'rough' area from where the boy's were from. Parker showed that there was an understanding in the neighbourhood and there was tolerance to some activities. For example, if the boy's stole something the neighbours wouldn't be offended as long as it wasn't from any members of the estate. This allowed there to be a very stable, solid community orientated approach to family life. By focusing on the working class males of Liverpool, not only did Parker study their behaviour but it could also be seen that he saw that their norms and values were completely different from the upper and middle classes. This came as a disadvantage to the boy's as it was the upper and middle class that determined what was to be seen as criminal behaviour as they weren't used to the lifestyle of the boy's and they did, to some extent have control over the making and defining of new legislations that were to be passed on anti-social behaviours. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall, looking at Parkers study it is possible to see that he was successful in the sense that observed in great detail the lives of boy's from a deviant sub-culture. The study looked at the lifestyle of the gang and the study was very influential as it focused on what led the boy's to turn to criminal activities and therefore helped the government to introduce new policies that helped juvenile delinquency and council housing. The study helped to look at the social benefits that could be achieved in areas such as the Roundhouse, and also changes were made to try and decrease crime by enforcing anti-social behaviour laws on areas. The criminal justice system looked at and understood the reasons that the boy's behaved the way that they did and tried to resolve these problems. Parker, although criticised for the study did manage to defend his position as a covert participant observer by fitting in with the gang that he would have not been able to do had he told them his real identity. The study helped to look at working class males in a new light as their actions and behaviours were explained by Parker. Additionally the study looked at participation observation and it was debatable whether it should have been used as it was against ethics. The study allowed a closer and more analytic look at the reasons for and against participation observation. However, as Parker argued, it would have been impossible to carry out the study in any other circumstance. ...read more.

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