Observation method in sociological research


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Observation method in sociological research

  1. 1. - Yash Vardhan Singh
  2. 2.  Non-experimental design.  Absence of independent variable does not allow any cause and effect relationship.  Key feature – Standardized plan and systematic approach to objectively observe and record behavior. Observation Overt Behavior Covert Behavior
  3. 3.  To ensure that each participant’s behavior is systematically recorded so it is possible to aggregate the behavior of all those in sample.
  4. 4.  Participant observation  Non-Participant observation  Structured observation  Non- Structured  Naturalistic Observation
  5. 5.  It is observation of respondent by researcher in respondent’s natural social settings.  Researcher has no influence over behavior of respondent.  Behavior of respondent is examined and recorded without consent of him.
  6. 6.  Advantages:  Good for observing specific subjects. Ecologically valid recordings of natural behavior. Spontaneous behavior likely to happen.  Disadvantages:  Threat to confidentiality
  7. 7.  Method relatively underused in social research.  Systematically and planned observing behavior in a controlled environment.  Direct observation of behavior and recording of the behavior and the recording of that behavior in term of categories that have been devised prior to start data collection.  Explicitly formulated rules for observation and recording of behavior.
  8. 8.  Rules inform the observer about what they should look for and how they should record behavior.  These rules are articulated in observation schedule.
  9. 9.  Advantages  Observing direct behavior.  Allows control of extraneous variable.  Reliability of results by repetitive study.  Provides a safe environment to study continuous concepts.  Disadvantages  Control can effect behavior.  Observer Bias.  Imposing of irrelevant framework.  Not possible to know intentions behind behavior.  Unable to produce data a whole.
  10. 10.  No use of observation schedule for recording of behavior.  Gives narrative account of the behavior.  Unplanned and informal.  It studies behavior of respondent in the natural social settings.
  11. 11.  Advantages  Broad overview of the situation and conditions prevailing in the society.  Useful when subject matter is clear.  Disadvantages  Appropriate as first step.  Not specific approach as it is the narrative description of observation.  Problem of generalization.
  12. 12.  Best known method in social science research.  Associated with qualitative research.  Prolonged physical immersion of observer in a social setting in which he seeks to observe the behavior of members of that setting.  In-depth study of the society and subject.  Close interaction and relation between observer and subject.
  13. 13.  Advantages  Insiders view.  Researcher becomes an accepted part of the environment.  Detailed study of social settings.  Identification of real problems and elements that are leading to such problems.  Disadvantages  Problem of objectivity.  Close relation affects study.  Time taking process.  Unstructured.
  14. 14.  Observer observes but does not participate in what is going on in the social settings.  Planned and structured.  Observer abstains himself from his physical presence in the social settings.  Other sources are used to come to conclusion.
  15. 15.  Advantages  Avoidance of Observer effect.  Biased free.  Low cost and less time consuming.  Disadvantages  Reliance on secondary sources which may be inaccurate.  No identification of real problem and prevailing social settings.  No in-depth study.
  16. 16.  Coding scheme.  Specifies the categories of the behavior that are to be observed and how behavior should be allocated to these categories.  One of the best-known schedules for observation of class rooms is Flanders Interaction Analysis Categories (FIAC) devised by Flanders(1970).
  17. 17. FIAC Categories
  18. 18.  Literacy is one of the factors to development.  To know the impact of the illiteracy in the rural society it is natural to adopt structured observation. Although non-participation observation is sufficient to arrive at a conclusion.  But to know the specific causes of illiteracy and impact on development a certain level of participation is necessary.  By observing the living standard, income and health conditions of literates and illiterates.
  19. 19.  Observation method is an important method and tool in social research.  It is very important in arriving at new conclusions and findings.  In-depth study leads to identifications of real problems.