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The Sociology of Behaviour in Golf Clubs

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The Sociology of Behaviour in Golf Clubs Research topic My research topic is on the experiences of people in golf clubs. I looked at people's behaviour on the golf course and in the club bar. I studied their conversation topics and patterns and their attitudes towards playing 'well' or 'badly'. I also looked at their perceptions and views about other players. I also explored the themes such as gender, class and racism that were raised in my literature review. I saw if these correlated with my own research and whether new themes arose. I felt qualitative research was the most suitable methodology for my research. Research Questions Qualitative research involves formulating questions to be explored and developed in the research process, rather than hypotheses to be tested by or against empirical research (Mason, 1996:15). Research questions are questions, which the research is designed to address and should express the essence of the enquiry. In my study the questions I set out to address were: * What are peoples experiences of golf clubs? * Who are members of golf clubs? * Are their experiences effected by gender? By class? * What way do they behave on golf courses? * What way do they behave in club bars? * What do they talk about? Are their conversation topics and patterns different on the golf course to the club bar? * What kinds of ideas, norms and beliefs operate in golf clubs? ...read more.


I recognise that my presence, in the role of observer-as-participant, may have changed the participant's behaviour. To minimise this and in order to get more realistic fieldnotes it was important to be as unobtrusive as possible and I avoided reacting to their conversation and behaviour. Participant observation involves the taking of fieldnotes. Fieldnotes can be described as "relatively concrete descriptions of social processes and these contexts" (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1983:145). Fieldnotes are ideally written during the observation as it is easier do record each happening as it occurs rather than trying to recall it all afterwards. It is important to record every mundane detail as it happens and not just events that are deemed significant by the researcher. This is the only way a true picture of the topic can be formed. Every "apparently trivial happenings or utterances" (Lofland and Lofland, 1995:66) must be logged. My fieldnotes were written on the left-hand side of the page and my interpretations were written on the right-hand side. In taking my fieldnotes, using Spadley's (1980) checklist, I took note of the space around me, drawing diagrams when necessary; the participants in sight and what they were doing; objects and props around and in use by the participants; any events or breaks from the norms that occurred; and finally any feelings I sensed or could recognise from facial expressions. I took six, half hour observations in the golf club. ...read more.


My observations were in the form of notes and my interview was transcribed. This enabled me to arrange, rearrange, sort, code and file them with greater ease. The notes were constantly reviewed and codes and categories are identified which by explaining and understanding develop into concepts and theories. Analysis is an ongoing process that took place throughout my study. Earlier analyses influenced later data collection. My analysis followed the guide of Marshall and Rossman's five models of analytic procedures. These involve "organising the data; generating categories, themes and patterns; testing the emergent hypotheses against the data; searching for alternative explanations of the data; and writing the report" (Marshall and Rossman, 1995:113). My analysis also shows whether the issues that were raised in my literature, were relevant or present at all in my study. Through my literature review I was guided by "initial concepts and guiding hypotheses" (Marshall and Rossman, 1995:112) and through my analysis I decided what to discard and what was significant and reoccurring. Biases My bias and preconceptions about golf clubs were that there is a great difference between the experience of males and female players. I thought that men were more competitive and that I would observe them reacting more strongly to playing 'badly' than women. I also thought that women play golf for more social reasons and that they would talk more about non-golf related topics than men. I thought that women were deemed inferior players and that men were seen as more knowledgeable about the sport regardless of handicap. Having recognised these biases beforehand I hope I succeeded in avoiding them in conducting my fieldwork. ...read more.

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