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soc 232 March 8.doc

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SOC 232
Stuart Leard

Soc 232 March 8 2013 1 Access to Closed Settings which are formal organizations: There are many different ways to gain access: Friends, contacts, and colleagues. Get someone in the organization to vouch for you: a ‘sponsor’. Even if acquired, you may need the approval of ‘gatekeepers’. It may be necessary to offer something in return, e.g. a copy of the finished study. Access to Closed Settings, cont’d. Provide a clear explanation of your aims and methods. Be willing to negotiate the terms of access. Be open about how much time research participants would have to spend. Access to Open Settings Sometimes a similar process to access closed settings. May need to get ‘sponsors’ and ‘gatekeepers’ on side. E.g. Taylor (1993) - assistance of a drug counsellor - a ‘research bargain’ ‘Hanging around’ may help. E.g. Wolf’s (1991) access to a Canadian biker gang. - “looking the part” - the leader of the Rebels MC acted as his sponsor. Ongoing Access: overt, open and closed settings Ongoing access can be problematic. People get suspicious of the researcher’s motives. Group members fear that what they say or do will get back to bosses or Soc 232 March 8 2013 2 colleagues. People being studied may decide to sabotage the research. Ongoing Access, cont. To maintain access play up your credentials; do not give people a reason to dislike you; have a plan for allaying people’s suspicions; be prepared for tests of competence and credibility; E.g. Horowitz (2002) tested to see if she could keep a secret. be adaptable to changing circumstances in the research setting. Key Informants These are informants who are particularly knowledgeable and cooperative. Drawbacks to having their help: Researcher may ignore other group members. A key informant’s view may not be representative of the group as a whole. Roles for Ethnographers Complete participation Covert operations The researcher adopts a secret role in the group. This method gets the closest to participants and their activities but there is a risk of over-identification or developing a strong dislike of the participants. Either may skew the data. Roles for Ethnographers, cont. Participant-as-observer Researcher adopts a role in the group. Participants are aware who the researcher really is. Risk of reactivity. Roles for Ethnographers, cont. Observer-as-participant Researcher observes
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