Methods: participant observation

Walsh, Katie (2009) Methods: participant observation. In: Kitchen, Rob and Thrift, Nigel (eds.) International encyclopedia of human geography. Elsevier, pp. 77-81. ISBN 9780080449104

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Abstract

Originally a research method associated with the discipline of anthropology, participant observation has increasingly been embraced by human geographers to explore a wide range of social and cultural spaces, sites, practices, and identities. Participant observation involves the researcher becoming part of the group being researched and reflecting on their experiences and the meaning systems they learn in the process. Key practices for those conducting participant observation that help distinguish this qualitative research method from others, include the long-term and ongoing negotiation of in-depth access to the field site; the adoption of covert and overt strategies; and the writing of field notes. Central methodological debates discussed in the article are: (1) critiques of participant observation as being 'unscientific'; (2) the use of critical reflexivity to help analyze the impact of the researcher on the research; (3) the deconstruction of the insider/outsider dualism; and (4) the ethical dilemmas surrounding field relationships.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Depositing User: Katie Walsh
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:21
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2012 07:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/11888
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