Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Discuss the merits and demerits of participant and nonparticipant observation

Forms of Observation

1. Participant Observation
2. Non-participant observation

1. Participant Observation :

This is method of observation in which the researcher becomes part of the community or society or group under observation and as such he observes the specific movements, behaviours and jobs of the people under observation. He joins them taking into confidence and this gives the nearest information.

Merits of Participant Observation

Participant observation is a very useful method of research and has the following merits :
1. A researcher is able to observe the real behaviour being very near to natural environment can note these which people cannot express or do not want to express and this cannot be done in non-participant observation.

2. It consists of long time and the researcher being part of the group, he can observe the behaviour which other researchers ignore.

3. Its merit lies in the fact that the researcher is very near to the problem or social condition under study in a natural environment and can get details on the basis of a relation of basic nature and can record on audio tape and can observe again in case of need.

4. A researcher provides such an importance to a research as to lessen the possibility of any complication for its generalization because they do not consist of interview or 'survey superficial answer of an artificial environment.

5. Interviews and experiments are done rapidly in an artificial environment and in the state' of anger, haste, mental tension on the part of an interviewee making the response affected and polluted affecting the consequences negatively whereas a researcher in participant observation collects data in a natural and real environment and extraordinary condition can be ignored which is an additional facility.

Demerits of Participant Observation

1. A researcher may ignore certain activities of the subject under study thinking them natural and common.

2. He may influence the members of the group under study thus changing their attitude making it artificial.

3. Participant observation provides a qualitative data and this data is not gained which makes different the study of analysis of relationship of variables.

4. Participant observation has the defect of not being repeatable because :
i. The behaviour of the members of a group changes with time.
ii. A researcher also changes. Different researchers note different things and behaviour so their repetition becomes difficult.

5. Participant observation requires much money and time which is not available always.

2. Non-Participant Observation :

In this method of research, we observe persons from a distance and do not participate the activities of the individual just as a visitor to observe a cricket match.
It can be divided into two parts :
i. Simple observation
ii. Systematic observation

i. Simple observation :
A researcher keeps himself at a distance from the group under Study and observes and collects data and uses no data collecting tools like interview schedule, questionnaire, etc. This observation is done to know the nature of a specific problem or generally some specific behaviour.

For example :
i. How do the visitors express their spontaneous behaviour at the time of winning of a match?
ii. What is reaction of the people in a political procession on seeing the big picture of their political opponent?
iii. What is the behaviour of people participating in a funeral procession?

Simple observation helps for useful information in other sciences like Botony, Zoology, Astronomy, Psychology and Social Psychology in addition to Sociology. The knowledge gained through simple observation not only adds the information and data to the scientific knowledge but also it provides a base and field for further research as a motivating element to the researcher.

ii. Systematic observation :
In a system observation, a researcher adopts a procedure by framing questionnaires or experiment because it can be carried Out in a laboratory or common social condition (field).

Characteristics :
1. In systematic observation, a researcher minimizes the efforts of intervening and extraneous variables and collects data in an organized way.

2. It can be revised and previously achieved results can be tested.

3. A researcher lessens the external environment effects and attends to the object only.

4. Since it is limited, it is less expensive but this demands more ability and skill of a researcher.

5. It is more trustworthy with less possibility of mistake and in case of any mistake it can be revised to get correct results easily.


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