Research Methods Chapter 7

error of measurement
Critics of more quantitative and artificial means of measurement indicate that instead of speaking of error in measurement, it would be more accurate to speak of the _________ ___ __________

These errors in surveys and experimental studies include variability in response as a result of noncomparability of studies and differences caused by the methodologies employed

For example, telephone surveys may turn up greater victimization than face-to-face interviews

_____ of auspices or sponsorship may compromise the results of many studies. For this reason, many criminal justice programs bring in outside, objective evaluators to analyze program outcomes

design imprefections
_______ _______ in either the instrument or the analysis, can produce inaccurate results.

Failure to account for nonrespondents may compromise the results of surveys and nonrespondents may differ considerable from those who cooperate in a survey

hired hands
Much survey research, although planned and designed by professionals, is conducted by these individuals who may have little interest in the accuracy or are unaware of idiosyncrasies and subtleties in data

Sussman and Haug (1967)
point out that unchecked mechanical errors in coding and data entry may be more serious in survey data than many assume. Sampling errors and nonrepresentative samples may lead to error, as might errors in interpretation of findings on the part of the researchers.

found that subjects in his experiments were willing to put up with boring, uncomfortable, painful, and ridiculous tasks if asked to do so by the experimenter. In fact, he was unsuccessful in finding experimental tasks that the subjects would refuse to perform.

participant observation
has long time been the favorite tool of anthropologists in studying preliterate tribes

refers to a variety of strategies in which the researcher studies a group in its naturals setting by observing its activities and, to varying degrees, participating in its activities

Chicago School of Sociology
In the 1920s, much of the early ethnographic work in criminology was pioneered by the students of this school

reported that participant observation techniques have been used to conduct a disproportionate number of police studies, especially investigations on police culture and officer corruption.

Contrary to advice offered by writers of leading criminology textbooks such as Sutherland and Cressey, _____ suggests that it is not unwise or impossible to study criminals in their natural environment

feels that we have been too dependent on studies of imprisoned criminals in an unnatural environment or on unquestioned use of official statistics, and that this has led to an inaccurate view of criminals and criminal behavior

participant observation approach
the researcher intentionally attempts to understand phenomena from the standpoint of the actors, or to gain critical insight via an understanding of the entire context and frame of reference of the subjects under investigation.

Hustlers, Beats, and Others (1967)
In this book, Polsky describes how he successfully employed participant observation in studying uncaught organized criminals, pool hustlers, drug dealers, and con artists.

Douglas (1972,1976)
suggests that, similarly, participant observation may be viewed as the beginning point of all other research

Before one can design a survey or experiment, one must observe the subject of the investigation sufficiently to known the proper areas to probe

Weber (1949)
referred to commitment to a more inductive or sensitizing strategy as the Verstehen approach

Weber- Verstehen approach
one in which the researcher purposefully attempts to understand phenomena from the standpoint of the actors or to gain critical insight through an understanding of the entire context and frame of reference of the subjects under study.

Glaser and Strauss (1967)
call for a grounded theory approach

Glaser and Strauss- grounded theory approach
a theory is developed during the data gathering, thus grounding it in the world, rather than artificially predetermining which hypotheses will be looked at.

Complete participation

Participant as observer

Observer as Participant

Complete Observation

4 types of Participant Observation

Complete Participation
takes place when the researcher not only joins in but actually begins to manipulate the direction of group activity. Such a strategy is rare and tends to violate an essential element of good participant observation—that the researcher attempt to avoid influencing the attitudes or behavior of the subjects under study.

Most Qualitative

When Prophecy Fails
The most frequently cited example of complete participation in the social science literature is the case of a group of researches who joined a small doomsday cult called __________

(Festinger, Riecken, and Schacter, 1956)

Marquet (1986)
Describing his research strategy as “complete participation,” ________ worked as a prison guard for 19 months while collecting data on prison life.

He was able to enter into more sensitive aspects of guard work, particularly after he established his credibility by successfully defending himself against an attack by an inmate

Participant as Observer
the type that most people identify as constituting participant observation.

The researcher usually makes his presence known and, although attempting not to influence situtations, tries to objectively observe the activities of the group. (without influencing it)

Observer as Particpant
describes the one-visit interview typically with a victim or criminal. Even though the interviewers may not think so, they are also short-term participant observers.

Holzman and Pines (1979)
employed in-depth interviews of thirty primarily white, middle-class “johns” and were unable to fund support for the “pathology-ridden depictions of the clients o prostitutes.”

Observer as participant

Cressey’s (1953) Other People;s Money
involved interviews with 133 incarcerated embezzlers

Observer as Participant

Klein and Montague (1977)
interviews with imprisoned, retired, and uncaught check forgers

Observer as Participant

Letkemann (1973)
studied forty-five bank robbers and burglars

Provided much of what criminologists know regarding “casing” (looking over) of banks and the bank robber’s dependence on uniformity of bank design, as well as handy parking

Observer as Participant

Complete observation
Experimental and unobtrusive measures. Research of Stein is instructive in this regard

Stein (1974)
employing one-way mirrors, was able to secretly observe and record hundreds of sessions between prostitutes and their clients.

participant observation- demands on time and personal cost
the most distinctive qualities of participant observation are these

Cost here refers not to financial obligations but to personal involvement.

characteristics of participant observation
demands on time and personal cost

observer must attempt to operate mentally on two different levels: becoming an insider while remaining an outsider

Researcher must avoid oversocialization, or going native

participant observation- becoming an insider while remaining an outsider
observer cannot be so far “inside”, or socialized into the group, that everything seems so normal as to not be worth reporting.

By the same token, the observer must be able to report patterns of behavior and interrelationships objectively and without moral bias.

The role of “outsider” can be very valuable when subjects share important information.

Informants may be more willing to open up to neutral and reliable outsiders.

participant observation- oversocialization or going native
This occurs when the researcher becomes so immersed in the study and group that the new identity becomes part of who he or she is.

The researcher may become fascinated by the lifestyle of the group under investigation.

Criminal subjects may convince the researcher that he or she could be successful as a criminal if they were in the lifestyle (see examples by Polsky and Skolnick).

dangerous in participant observation

Objectivity in Research
Researchers must avoid over identification with the study, group, but also aversion (dislike) to it.

Researchers must remain objective despite personal subjective bias.

Researchers, (especially, anthropologists) may find some of the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of the societies they study repugnant and immoral. However, they are trained not to judge, but rather, to record the meaning of these behavior to the people who practice them.

William Foote White
“All of us face the problem of maintaining perspective in any situation in which we participate intimately over a considerable period of time”

Famous anthropologist and author of Crime and Custom in Savage Society (1926), Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922), has been pointed to as a model of objectivity

According to an _____, researchers must learn to remove their personal distastes for the values and lifestyles of the untamed savages until they have gone out into the field to the cannibals and headhunters and observe them without trying to civilize or colonize them–see Polsky

suggests that researchers should cultivate a tolerant attitude while trying to understand from the same point of view as their subjects understand those activities that the researchers find distasteful.

observational research
some researchers argue that the methodology is unpleasant manipulation and immoral or “psychological espionage” or necessary deception to obtain needed data.

pondered whether the field researcher should immediately report police misconduct that has been observed or remain in the field collecting more data that could have a greater impact on organizational change.

author of such field studies as Synanon (1965a) and The Violent Gang (1962) criticizes Polsky’s view that the field researcher in criminal justice should avoid moralistic stances.

Feels that such a posture is going too far, whereas Polsky claims that such a position is necessary to gain a full picture of group activity.

Going native
a situation in which the researcher identifies with and becomes a member of the study group, and in the process, abandons his her role as an objective researcher

anthropologist who married a cannibal chief and the researchers who unknowingly took on the mannerisms of groups under investigation.

Toby (1986)
attacked criminologist John Irwin for a speech he gave before the American Society of Criminology, accusing him of romanticizing criminals.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice
In 1999, a researcher from this college was removed from a Health and Human Services-sponsored research project and accused of using, as well as buying, heroin for his research subjects

McLuhan (1989)
suggested that it is generally not a good idea to attempt to study a group in which one has been a lifelong member.

First, the researcher is too far immersed in the culture to maintain objectivity

Second, the members of the group get to know the researcher too well and may often be unwilling to treat him or her as a researcher.

Old rule of thumb holds that one must travel at least 100 miles from home grounds to be regarded as an expert.

field notes
an important practice that is essential in field studies is the keeping of extensive and detailed _____ _____ or diaries.

Initial participant observation is often exploratory, and presumably the researcher does not fully understand the culture of the group.

Thus, it is necessary take complete notes on as many details as possible, even those that appear trivial, because it may b these very “unimportant details” that later provide the key to some important facet of the study

Detail notes should be kept of everything that occur even events or acts that seem trivial at the time.

The researcher may perceive events unimportant because of his or her lack of familiarity with the culture.

They may later have significant meaning.

Record observations as often as possible — do not rely on memory.

Records should be kept of all participation and observations.

Researchers also suggest that more time should be spent taking quality field notes than time spent in the field.

is a system of memorizing. It is used in field research when note taking is impossible or unwise.
A technique once used by preliterate societies to orally pass down its traditions (history/culture).

The process allows the researcher to later reconstruct in exact details what transpired.

sound recording machines that reproduce dictation can also be a great device to use so that information can be later transcribed.

this can help researchers better manage data

claims that there is a 4:1 ratio of field-note writing to time in the field

Sanders (1977)
in a participant observation study of detectives, he quickly realized that taking notes made his subjects nervous.

He cut down on this practice and began to leave the notebook open in the detectives offices when he left each evening to show he had nothing to hide.

Later he ceased taking notes on the spot altogether and used the time for relaxed observation to improve rapport.

He also took photographs to improve recall which acted as a second type of field notes.

Franz Boas
Classic anthropologist that used the photograph technique in his study of Trobriand Islanders. He used “photo-elicitation” in which photographs were shown to the subjects in order to get them to talk about specific rituals

Other recording methods
Photographs (when allowed), can serve as a second type of field note.

Also, be aware of the use of tape recorders, videotapes, films, and other mechanical devices. These can help with recall.

Remember, some subjects (deviant/criminal) will not allow the researcher to use such devices in every research investigation.

photographs- autodriving
the respondents themselves are asked to take photographs and to comment on them

photographs- reflexive photography
involves giving respondents cameras and asking them to take pictures that are then explored in subsequent interviews

photographs- photo novella
picture stories

are another form of photo interviewing in which taking photos gives people a photo voice by later discussing particular needs or problems illustrated by these photos

Cecil Greek
describes visual criminology as using photographs as an ethnographic tool in criminal justice settings.

visual criminology
Photographs can also be used for news media and the collection of evidentiary forensics and other legal material

The use of photography and videography in field studies/ethnographies is not anything new.

It has a long tradition in anthropology and sociology

It is under explored in criminology and is ripe for ethnographic investigations.

what visual criminology can be used for
for data collection, analysis, and theory building.

to document aspects of the lives of those involved in either deviance or caught in the criminal justice system.

as a pedagogical tool

Generally, it takes some time before the ________ is accepted to the degree that the group becomes less suspicious and begins to act more naturally.

smaller the group
the greater the potential disturbance introduced by the researcher.

Suggests that one should keep in mind that the subject is in greater danger as a result of being studied in the field than is someone in jail.

The researcher is more of an intruder, and the subjects are certainly freer not to cooperate.

In studying criminals on their “turf,” researchers should avoid taking notes on the spot and using standard data-gathering tools such as questionnaires or tape recorders

Initially they should spend their time observing and listening, and avoid asking a lot of questions.

The researcher’s middleclass language and probing may become irritating to subjects.

William Foote Whyte
According to ________ _______ ________, one has to learn when to question and when not to question as well as what questions to ask. Sometimes if you just hang around, people will talk even when you are not asking questions.

Gaining Access
(must have entry)

Before becoming an insider, learn the language of the group under investigation. Avoid overusing it and trying too hard to be an insider

Experts argue that the initial introduction to criminals in the field may be gained by frequenting their haunts (places where people frequently hangout), or sharing either common recreational interest

learn the “argot” (specialized jargon)
Polsky advises this of the group being studied, but to avoid overusing it or trying too hard to be an insider.

Becker (1963)
recommends cabdrivers, reporters, bartenders, and cops as good sources of information on deviant hangouts, although his avenue to studying drug users was his performance in a jazz band

Becker (1978)
suggests various strategies for studying deviants. If previous status(race, ethnicity) provides access to deviant groups, it should be taken advantage of

Ianni and IAnni
were able to gain cooperation on the basis of mutual ethnic identity

Richard Tewksbury and colleagues
suggest the following roles to gain entry:

knowledgeable insider

potential participant

marginal member

emphatic outsider

knowledgeable outsider working with an knowledgeable insider

If access is still lacking, begin with incarcerated offenders.

This can lead to a larger population for the study.

They can put you in contact with others in the craft–see Steffensmeier’s The Fence and Sam Goodman.

Tulson, Marquat, and Mullings- 10 teps for “breaking into prisons” and other CJ organizations
1. Get a contact

2. Establish yourself and your research

3. Little things count, such as being on time and showing up when it is convenient for them, not you

4. Make sense of agency data by keeping in contact

5. Deliver competent, readable reports on time

6. Request to brief the agency, and give a formal presentation of your findings

7. Write apersonal thank-you note to everyone involved

8. Deal with adversity by planning ahead

9. Inform the agency of data use including providing copies of publication

10. Maintain trust by staying in for the long haul and keep in contact

Before late 1970s
researchers gained entry into prisons on the basis of employment or from having a relationship with a connected person.

Since that time, gaining entry into correctional environments has become complicated.

Issues Researchers Face Accessing Prisons
Suspicious jailers, wardens, and Directors*

State approval boards
Human subject consent

Institutional research boards
Institutional review boards

Researcher liability

Institutional litigation

*(Scholars suggest that researchers should propose ways to help administrators with practical problems in their prisons)

Of major assistance in gaining access to a new social world is an introduction to a _______, leader, or person who is willing to accept the purpose of the study and vouch for the researcher’s presence.

essential to the research since they often hold the key to the researcher gaining entry into the social world of those to be researched.

A community workers introduction of White to this leader of the Norton Street Gang, made access to Cornerville possible because Doc told everyone that Whyte was his friend

Agar- advantages of the transfer to a street gang with a trusted native
1. You have a guide to the territory. You quickly learn the social spaces in the neighborhood and the kinds of persons and activities that occupy each

2. You have an introduction into at least some groups on the scene. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. A straight outsider is often a “mark” just waiting for a disaster to occur. An intro from a trusted insider immediately establishes an openness together with certain rights and obligations as so-and-so’s friend.

Walker and Lidz (1977)
suggest the employment of “indigenous observers,” paid researchers from the ranks of those to be studied. Such remuneration is viewed as tangible reciprocity, or evidence of respect; such employment helps some to improve their circumstances; however, researchers must be certain that they are not eliciting demand characteristics or the creation of work as a result of their pay offer

“Researching Dealers and Smugglers”
Adler gained access to drug dealers and smugglers by befriending a neighbor who was a member of one of the drug smuggling crew. Patricia Adler observed the neighbor at work and got to know the other members of the crew and their women. The crew advanced the author’s research by serving as key informants and giving taped interviews

Polsky (1967)
suggests that if researchers gain access on the basis of some common interest, for instance, gambling or drinking, they should vey early on indicate their true purpose: “do not pretend to be one of them”

Most subjects will accept the simple explanation that the researcher is writing on book on the subject

This allows the researcher not to pretend to be one of them.

Most subjects will accept the explanation that the researcher is writing a book on the subject matter

Orenstein and Phillips
correctly recommend that a far more detailed explanation be given to the leaders, sponsors, or contact who must answer for the investigator’s presence

The use of random sampling is inappropriate in participant observation research.

Researchers often rely on snowball sampling.

Experts encourage field researchers to be “up-front” about their intended purpose in the field.

involves a system of mutual obligations. The researcher subjects help the investigator, now what is owed to them?

would entail that the researcher permit the subjects to study him or her by answering questions they may ask.

Protect the subjects’ identity by using pseudonyms to hide the names of subjects. For example, Sutherland relied on Chic Conwell in his research on The Professional Thief.

pseudonyms (aliases)
Because protection of the identity of informants is of great importance, most researchers us these to shroud the actual names of the subjects.

To protect subjects, some researchers have promised not to reveal their identity unless faced with the prospect of going to jail (see Klockars, 1977).

Legendary pseudonyms
Sutherland’s professional thief “Chic” Conwell

the Iannis’ Lupollo organized crime family

Klockar’s professional fence Vincent Swaggi

Researchers need to decide beforehand the _____ to which they wish to be privy to criminal activity.

Polsky (1967)
tells us that although a researcher should not pretend to be “one of them,” he or she should also not stick out like a sore thumb.

For instance, he wore short-sleeved shirts and an expensive watch in studying heroin use and trafficking, signaling that he was not a user since an addict would have track marks from shooting up and would have sold many items of value in order to support his or her habit

Iannis- scale to assign validity from highest to lowest
1. Data gathered by direct observation where we were participants

2. Data gathered by direct observation where we were not direct participants

3. Interviews that can be checked out against documented sources, for example, records of arrest or business ownership

4. Data corroborated by more than one informant

5. Lowest priority is assigned to data gathered from only one source. In addition, informants were graded from “always reliable” to “unreliable”

Indicates the following validity checks in The Fence: In the Shadow of Two Worlds (1986):

1. The interview format provided a cross-check: Did the second, third, and fourth interviews all say the same thing? Some interviews were also tape recoreded, and some were checked by Sam Goodman (the subject) himself

2. Documents such as newspapers, personal documents, court records, letters, sales receipts, advertising, and the like were examined

3. Observations of Sam at work were supplemented with interviews and meetings with customers, friends, and dealers

4. Consulation took place with police and legal officials

5. The data were consisten with biographies and autobiogrpahies of thieves

member checking
Another way of verifying the accuracy of observations

This involves having participants check your report to see if you are misinterpreting or misunderstanding anything

Life without Living: People of the Inner City
a series of studies conducted by James Gittings in the Pittsburgh and NYC areas. Part of his study of Millvale (near Pittsburg) was a description of a corner gang- the bridge boys- with whom he occasionally had contact.

Albini (1986)
conducted a field study from 1983 to 1984 of all Guardian Angels chapters in the United States and Canada. He underwent training, became a member of the organization, and patrolled with every chapter, concluding that they were not vigilantes as some had charged

Taylor (1984)
In the Underworld, he performed a two-year field study of uncaught professional criminals in the London underworld

in Wheeling and Dealing, interviewed and observed for six years upper-level cocaine and marijuana dealers and smugglers

Sullivan (1989)
spent more than four years studying youth gangs and crime on the streets of Brooklyn

Sanchez Jankowski
spent over ten years studying gangs in three cities (Boston, New York, and Los Angeles)

the gangs presented _________ with two tests.

to test whether he was an informant, they committed illegal acts to see if he would turn them in to authorities. He was on one occasion falsely accused and physically attacked.

The second test involved what other gang observers called a “beat down” or initiation rite. He would have to determine how tough he was when other members would start a fight with him.

Wright and Decker
in Armed Robbers in Action and Burglars on the Job, these two conducted field interviews with uncaught, active burglars and armed robbers

In Signal Zero, he was a professor who became a police officer

studied members of the KKK

did a participant observational study of Christian Patriots in Idaho

Goldstein et al.
have conducted participant observation studies of drug users utilizing “ethnographic field stations”, outposts established in the community (such as store fronts) for the purpose of collecting data and as a setting for interaction between researchers and subjects

Such sites facilitate the collection of longitudinal data from fairly large samples and enhance the researcher’s legitimacy in the neighborhood.

used indigenous observers (people from the neighborhood) to study gang members. Characterized four types of gang members: legits, homeboys, dope fiends, and new jacks

Advantages of Participant Observation
Represents a commitment to a sensitizing or “verstehen” strategy in which the researcher attempts to actually experience the life conditions of the study group.

Such an approach generally produces less prejudgments, is less disturbing to respondents than experiments, and is more flexible and natural than more artificial means of data gathering.

Contradictions between attitudes and behaviors become apparent

Being on the scene, the researcher can double-check assumptions regarding the meaning of observations.

Allows for a full-picture of criminal behavior that contains the offender’s perspective

The method is a theory generating technique

After the research is completed, one must put forward a theory explaining with transpired and what is found in the subculture

Disadvantages of Participant Observation
very-time consuming nature, taking precedence over one’s previous lifestyle.

overidentification or dislike of the group being studied can be problematic

poses the problem of gaining entry into and acceptance by a group. Perhaps the most personally demanding technique

The observer is often not in a position to control the actions of others and consequently, he or she will have to wait for something/anything to occur (could be a boring process)

ethical dilemmas are sometimes raised by this technique, particularly if uncaught criminals are the subject of study.

Researchers must control their biases which could influence how they observe, record, and interpret

major challenge is the fact that it generally yields nonquantitative data and thus may require greater literacy and analytic skill at the write-up stage

There is no way to replicate or repeat the field experience

Physical environments change for a number of reasons such as gentrification, deterioration, rebuilding)

The use of pseudonyms (of the subjects who actually participated in the study)

People may eventually leave the scene (e.g. relocate to other areas, get incarcerated, seek treatment/ intervention, leave the lifestyle, or die).

ethical dilemmas
Researcher must decide what to do

Some argue that such decisions should be made prior to the investigation

Deception is often necessary to collect these data

case studies
They are relatively thorough examinations of specific social settings, or particular aspects of social settings, including detailed psychological and behavioral descriptions of persons in those settings

They are in-depth, qualitative studies of one or a few illustrative cases.

Nearly every aspects of the subject’s life is examined for patterns and causes of behavior.

They can be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory.

While using this method, the researchers attention is centered on an in-depth examination of one or a few cases on, many dimensions.

While quantitative approaches aim to provide a more-macro-criminological view or big picture of the subject matter, these methods provide a micro-criminological or in depth close up of one or only a few cases

They can include general field studies

They can also be a study of a crime commission.

has noted a decline in coverage of the case study approach in criminology and criminal justice texts and attributes this to its eclipse by quantitative methods and the unfortunate labeling of any case study as an example of a “one-shot case study” by Campbell and Stanley

can be individual people, neighborhoods, correctional facilities, courtrooms, or other aggregates

life history/oral history
These techniques are typically used in case study methods

The process may include videotaping prominent criminologists and criminal justicians

Research can be used to test theories, generate hypotheses for the future, as well as sensitize researchers to important questions

The researcher interviews and gathers documentary materials about someone’s life, usually someone who is older

The researcher asks open-ended questions to capture how the person understands his or her own past.

The main purpose is to get at how the respondent sees/remembers the past, not just some kind of objective truth

A grid can even be used in the process which may consist of occupation, education, family events, or ten different ages of the person.

It can be considered a subtype of oral history

defines life history as a life story, or a biographical interview that is a special type of field interviewing.

life histories and oral histories
are some methodologies employed in case studies

oral and life histories
“recounts of events by participants””

Journalists use this term

documentary expression or oral history
Historians and social scientists use this term

In Criminology in the making: An Oral History, examined the history of criminology by means of in-depth interviews with major criminologists

case studies
concentrating on single individuals, groups, or communities and employing life history documents, oral histories, in-depth interviews, as well as participant observation, this method is quite versatile and has generated fascinating literature

major advantage is its in-depth, qualitative view of a few subjects

major problems associated with such methods are possible researcher bias and a typicality of the cases chosen for analysis

advantages of case studies
They are flexible since they allow researchers to use several data gathering techniques (observation, interviewing, examination of records, and questionnaire).

Case studies may be conducted in almost any type of social environment

The flexibility of case studies may be extended to virtually any dimension of the topics studied

Case studies may be inexpensive, depending on the extent of inquiry involved and the type of data collection technique used

disadvantages of case studies
Because they are time consuming, they are not conducted with the same broad magnitude as surveys

They have limited generalizability.

Researcher’s bias and the type of case selected for analysis (Casey Anthony, PSU-child sex scandal, Ferguson riots)

Sutherland’s The Professional Thief
classic example of a landmark case study in criminology in which his informant, chic Conwell, described the world of the professional theif

Investigative Journalists
are interested in documenting and exposing social conditions and are generally less interested in theoretically incorporating their findings into the social science literature

contributed one of the few articles devoted to single-subject designs in CJ research

In it, he noted that relying on group designs (nomothetic) to measure the success of crime control program blurs the individual cases of success or failure by using average achievement scores.

major advantages of participant observation
fewer prejudgments

less disturbance

greater flexibility

more natural settings

sensitizing, qualitative nature of such studies

Leading shortcomings of participant observation
very demanding nature of such research

problems of gaining acceptance, maintaining objectivity, facing ethical dilemmas, avoiding oversocialization or aversion, and the nonquantitative nature of such information

William Foot Whyte- Street Corner Society
“The participation of the researcher in the activities of the people being studied will be shaped in part by the degrees of differences in cultural backgrounds, race, or ethnic identification between the field worker and the study subjects.”

participant observation
refers to a variety of strategies in which the researcher studies a group in its natural setting by observing its activities and to varying degrees, participating in its activities.

represents a commitment to more inductive or sensitizing strategy.

Dean Champion (1993)
argues that if properly conducted, observation is characterized by the following:

(1). Observations capture the natural social context where person’s behavior occurs.

(2). Observations grasp significant events or occurrences that might influence the social interactions of participants.

(3). Observations determine what makes up reality from the world views, the outlooks, and philosophies of those being observed.

(4). Observations identify regularities and recurrences in social life by comparing and contrasting data obtained in one study with those obtained in studies of other natural settings.

Major purposes of observations
(1). To capture human conduct as it actually happens, to permit us to view the processual features of behavior.

(2). To provide more graphic descriptions of social life than can be acquired in other ways.

(3). To learn in an exploratory sense, those things that should receive more attention by researchers

The “Chicago School” of Sociology in the 1920s
The scholars at the University of Chicago fully engaged in participant observation and case study methods to investigate the abundance of social problems, including crime that was common to Chicago in the 20s, 30s, and 40s.
The city was influenced by rapid industrialization, mass immigration, migration, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and the effects of WWI.

William Foote White
“the first days or weeks in the field generally yield little data of lasting value. It takes time to fit into the scene, adjust to people, gain acceptance, and begin to understand what is going on”