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Participant Observation

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Participant Observation Covert participant observation ( P.O) is when research is undertaken on subjects oblivious to the research. The subjects do not know the researchers purpose or true identity. In contrast overt P.O is when subjects are informed of the study and have given their consent. Covert P.O has raised many ethical questions on its deceiving methods. It is seen as an intrusion and a breach of privacy, which causes issues of human and civil rights to be raised. Groups, if they were to discover they were to discover they were the subjects of covert P.O would probably have a largely disagreeable reaction. Anger, betrayal, confusion and insecurity are just a few potential reactions to discovery. ...read more.


Its effects can be positive or negative but they are usually factual and so have a direct influence on solid stereotypes. Covert P.O is an important tool for sociologists. It offers powerful and reliable information. The flipside to the coin though is that where does our right to knowledge come from, who says the importance of Sociology give us the right to deceive groups to find out the workings of their private lives? Furthermore in Covert P.O you normally would be researching a narrow angle in contrast to the full spectrum. If the sociologists found out they were the subjects of Covert P.O on how sociologist treat the world I would expect them to be upset so why should they be allowed to it's a bit of an arrogant way to behave. ...read more.


His study also had to be released for his safety after two years. In "When Prophecy Fails" by Festinger he had to record his data in the toilets! The consequences of relying on memory for data means that elements of your research might be sketchy that data is recorded precisely and this would lead to unreliability. "Going Native" means that a researcher becomes more involved than maybe they originally intended with the group. This can lead to biased and subjective research. This can also impact the lifestyle of the group and can change the environment, hierarchy or set-up of a group. So in conclusion it could be said that both covert and overt P.O have advantages and disadvantages. The choice is up to the sociologists and their ethics.... ...read more.

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