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Evaluate the strengths and limitations of using covert participant observation to investigate pupils with behavioural difficulties

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Introduction

Transfer-Encoding: chunked Applying material from item B and your knowledge of research methods, evaluate the strengths and limitations of using covert participant observation to investigate pupils with behavioural difficulties. (20 Marks) Pupils who experience behavioural problems within the education system are often male and from a working class background. Sociologists may choose to study children using covert participant observation (cbo) to increase validity. Studying children in general can however, raise many practical and ethical issues. Access is the main practical issue in this investigation. Gatekeepers such as other teachers prohibit access to the children. In order to gain lawful access, cbo would allow the sociologist to take on the role of an assistant teacher. ...read more.

Middle

For example, a female sociologist is most likely to fit the criteria for the interviewer. This is because a large majority of working class boys are raised in lone parent families, 90% of which are headed by a woman. Working class boys may look to the sociologist as a mother figure, increasing the chances of them confiding in her. Furthermore, she would have to be working class and use restricted code when communicating with the children to become more ?relatable? to the social group. This would allow the sociologist to build a rapport with the children, further increasing the validity of the investigation. The Item suggests that behavioural problems stem from external factors such as cultural and material deprivation. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is subjective and individual. Factors leading to behaviour are complex just like human beings. The problem with cpo is that it is unrepresentative, and does not allow sociologists to record a pattern of how someone might behave, depending on their background. For this reason, sociologists such as positivists would reject this method of collecting information. If an interviewer creates a rapport with the students, it might affect their opinions on the children. Their views could become twisted and biased, not emphasizing the reality of the situation out of favouring the child. It is difficult to access areas without being deceitful and failing to protect the individuals within school. A search would also have to be conducted to find the sociologist with the right characteristics to fit the regulations needed in order to gain respect of the interviewees. ...read more.

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