Friday, September 25, 2009

Teresa's questions

In the chapter about observation techniques, the authors describe observations with different degrees of participation (e.g., complete participant, participant-as-observer, observer-as-participant, and complete observer). In what factors should we think about when choosing the degree of participation in an observation?

Adler and Adler assert that the complete participant and auto-observation offer the advantage of great depth and insight. However, I wonder if you’re subject of your own observation, how can you analyze culture and norms that are taken for granted and become natural for you? How can we draw conclusions and generalizations?

Ethical issues in participant observations and interviews are similar to journalistic ethical dilemmas. They include disguising identity, denouncing crimes when investigating, etc. Should we apply the same or similar ethical norms in an academic investigation that in a journalistic report? Why or why not?

Ethnographies are supposed to be immersions for a long period of time. In this sense, although Everbach’s study is really good, it seems to be more a collection of interviews in a three-week period than a participant observation. Why should we call it a participant observation?

Finally, the journalists who worked at the Sarasota Herald Tribune clearly knew the purpose of Everbach’s study. Furthermore, they knew that this all-women led newspaper was an anomaly; they called it “amazonia.” Therefore, to what extent the researcher obtained the answers she wanted to get? In other words, should the researcher or interviewer give details or clearly say the purpose of the study beforehand?

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