SOCA02-Textbook Chapter 2,9,13 Jan-31-2011
Field Methods: From detached Observation to “Going Native”
•Field research: is research based on the observation of people in their natural settings.
Detached observation: an approach involving classifying and counting the behavior of
interest according to predetermined scheme.
Hawthorne effect: The presence of the researcher may itself affect the behavior of the
people being observed.
Ethnographic: researcher spends months or even years living with a people to learn their
languages, values, mannerisms – their culture – and develop and intimate understanding of
•involves carefully observing people's face-to-face interactions and participating in their lives
over a long period of time, thus achieving a deep and sympathetic understanding of what
motivates them to act in the way they do.
•Subjectivity: going “native”, observing the subject from the subject's world.
Can go too far because the observers cannot see their subjects' cultures with much
•Objectivity: observing the subject from the outside.
Can go too far because the observers cannot fully understand the way their subjects
experience the world, thus observers often rely on their own experiences to impute meaning
to a social setting.
•It's hard for participant-observers to gain access to the groups they want to study they must
gain their trust
•Race, gender, class and age differences sometimes make it difficult.
•Participant Observation begins with Exploratory Research: in which an attempt to describe,
understand, and develop a theory about a social phenomenon in the absence of, or with little,
previous research on the subject.
•Hypotheses: are unverified but testable statements about the relationship between two or more
•Grounded theory: is an explanation of a phenomenon based not on mere speculation but on the
controlled scrutiny of objects.
•Variables: are concepts that can take on more than one value.
•Operationalization: is the procedure by which researchers establish criteria for assigning
values to variables. should “class” be measured by determining people's annual income? Or
their accumulated wealth, or years of formal education?
Reliability, Validity, Generalizability, and Causality
•Reliability: is the degree to which a measurement procedure yields consistent results.
•Validity: is the degree to which a measure actually measures what it is intended to measure.
All valid measures are reliable, but not all reliable measures are valid.
External Validity: allows the research findings to generalize to the general population.
Internal Validity: the degree that we are successful in eliminating confounding variables