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Participant Observation Exercise

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Introduction

Participant Observation Exercise My participant observation took place in the University's Student Union. I observed three friends who were already seated from 5.47pm to 6.15pm and was able to make judgements on social relationships and individual actions. I observed three males, excluding myself. I will refer to them under different names in order to preserve any privacy. Dave and Tony were sat on chairs while Chris was sat on a large seating area bench and was slightly away from them as there were no seats available. Dave was sat with both his knees up on the seat and no feet touching the floor, he was at an angle to face Tony who sat in the middle. Tony had his feet resting on the table in front of him and would occasionally start shaking his feet perhaps unconsciously. As Chris was slightly away from the others, he was forced to lean forward to be more involved with conversation. Initially, his arms were crossed against his chest, a renounded defensive posture (http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/body.php). I questioned myself as to why he would take up such a posture, concluding that it was down to fear of not being noticed or being heard in terms of the conversation. ...read more.

Middle

It is his ankles that cross while still being on the seat. This is known to psychologists as a sign of apprehension (Introducing Psychological Research - Philip Banyard and Andrew Grayson). My thoughts being that he is unsure of how Tony and Chris will react to his doubts about the singer. It could also be the case that he is very disappointed with the singer himself and is apprehensive about him. Tony then started taking it upon himself to get Chris more involved in the conversation by occasionally repeating parts of what Dave said while looking at Chris. Dave then goes onto alter the conversation, ensuring Chris' involvement. He asks Chris a direct question which is involved slightly with the topic. He asks how his guitar playing is coming along. As Chris begins speaking, his defensive posture is maintained and is now accompanied by a slight tapping on his elbow which is done almost in synch with his speech. This perhaps is symbolic that it is a topic that Chris is not especially comfortable in discussing and he wants conversation to digress, his response is short and sharp and he simply says "yes its ok" and is monotonous when answering. ...read more.

Conclusion

When talking on the phone his tone becomes more serious and he leans forward. It is a conversation with his father. Tony starts slowly removing food crumbs from the table in front of him as the conversation begins to progress. Also whilst talking he puts chocolate bar wrappers close to him that are on the table into the plastic cup from which he was earlier drinking. This sudden tidying up suggests that because he is talking to his father, he has framed himself in the mindset as though he was with him. This appears to be a mindset of order as Tony was quick to change his seating posture from one of relaxed idleness to one of concentration and activity as he sat forward. The fact that he begins to clean up suggests he is very much under the influence of his father and at home he has been told to clean up after himself possibly, his subconscious tells him that because he can hear the voice of his father, the same rules must start to apply. The observation was brought to an end here because we were joined by six other parties and it would be incredibly difficult to remain discreet as I would have to be involved with at least one of the several conversations that would occur. ...read more.

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