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Observation Methods

Observation Methods

Four Volume Set
Edited by:

1 632 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Observation - as a deliberate, organized and systematic form of 'looking' or 'watching' - is integral to all scientific inquiry. It is a process that is guided by rational principles and assumptions, and motivated by an interest in obtaining data on occurrences, events, processes, reactions, forms of conduct and relationships.

This collection, drawing together key contributions on observation methods in social research, provides comprehensive coverage of the historical development of observational methods and techniques and offers analytic reflection on the various issues involved in the scientific practice of observation. The volumes demonstrate the rich diversity of observational methods, techniques and associated innovations, as well as providing examples of results obtained by studies now considered to be social science classics. The volumes contain important material concerned with the development and refinement of observational methods, as well as the theoretical and philosophical understandings and assumptions integral to observation as a process. Sources that explore the practical matters involved in the stages of preparing for, engaging in, and analysing observations also feature, along with material from classic studies using observational methods. Finally, in addition to critiques of methods of observation, there are sources responding to recent developments within observational methods which utilise the possibilities afforded by contemporary digital and information technology in creative ways.

Karl Popper
The Bucket and the Searchlight
Two Theories of Knowledge

Thomas Kuhn
Revolutions as Changes of World View
Jonathan Crary
Techniques of the Observer
William Thompson
Observer Effects

Michel Foucault
Seeing and Knowing
Emile Durkheim
Rules for the Observation of Social Facts
Jennifer Platt
Weber's Verstehen and the History of Qualitative Research
The Missing Link

Max Weber
The Definitions of Sociology and of Social Action
Alfred Sch tz
Social Relationships between Contemporaries and Indirect Social Observation
Alfred Sch tz
Some Basic Problems of Interpretive Sociology
Matthias Gross
Unexpected Interactions
Georg Simmel and the Observation of Nature

Martin Jay
Scopic Regimes of Modernity
John Rajchman
Foucault's Art of Seeing
Joseph-Marie baron de Gérando
Excerpt from The Observation of Savage Peoples
Raymond Gold
Roles in Sociological Field Observation
Paul Atkinson
Performing Ethnography and Ethnography of Performance
Robert Dingwall
Accounts, Interviews and Observations
Robert Emerson
Observational Fieldwork
Jean-Michel Chapoulie
Everett C Hughes and the Development of Fieldwork in Sociology
Jennifer Platt
The Chicago School and First-Hand Data
Penny Summerfield
Mass Observation
Social Research or Social Movement?

Michal Bodemann
A Problem of Sociological Praxis
The Case for Interventive Observation in Fieldwork

Torin Monahan and Jill Fisher
Benefits of 'Observer Effects'
Lessons from the Field

Judith Stacey
Can There Be a Feminist Ethnography?
Linda Tuhiwai Smith
On Tricky Ground
Researching the Native in the Age of Uncertainty

Raymond Corbey
Ethnographic Showcases, 1870-1930
John Berger
Why Look at Animals
Jun Li
Ethical Challenges in Participant Observation
A Reflection on Ethnographic Fieldwork

Robert Labaree
The Risk of 'Going Observationalist'
Negotiating the Hidden Dilemmas of Being an Insider Participant Observer

Elizabeth Murphy and Robert Dingwall
Informed Consent, Anticipatory Regulation and Ethnographic Practice
David Calvey
The Art and Politics of Covert Research
Doing 'Situated Ethics in the Field

Richard Hilbert
Covert Participant Observation
On Its Nature and Practice

Peter Lugosi
Between Overt and Covert Research
Concealment and Disclosure in an Ethnographic Study of a Commercial Hospitality

Paul Spicker
Ethical Covert Research
Helen Sampson and Michelle Thomas
Lone Researchers at Sea
Gender Risk and Responsibility

Martin Bulmer
When Is Disguise Justified? Alternatives to Covert Participation Observation
Kai Erikson
A Comment on Disguised Observation in Sociology
Laud Humphreys
New Jersey: Transaction
Michael Lenza
Controversies Surrounding Laud Humphreys' Tearoom Trade
An Unsettling Example of Politics and Power in Methodological Critiques

Nigel Fielding
Working in Hostile Environments
Pamela Nilan
Dangerous Fieldwork Re-Examined
The Question of Researcher Subject Position

Christine Oeye, Anne Karen Bjelland and Aina Skorpen
Doing Participant Observation in a Psychiatric Hospital
Research Ethics Resumed

Geoff Pearson
The Researcher as Hooligan
Where 'Participant' Observation Means Breaking the Law

Maria Pérez-y-Pérez and Tony Stanley
Ethnographic Intimacy
Thinking through the Ethics of Social Research in Sex Worlds

Michael Pettit
The Con Man as a Model Organism
The Methodological Roots of Erving Goffman's Dramaturgical Self

Colin Bell
A Note on Participant Observation
Jiri Kolaja
A Contribution to the Theory of Participant Observation
Howard Becker
Problems of Inference and Proof in Participant Observation
Duncan Fuller
Part of the Action or 'Going Native'? Learning to Cope with the 'Politics of Integration'
S. M. Miller
The Participant Observer and 'Over-Rapport'
Jacqueline Wade
Role Boundaries and Paying Back
'Switching Hats' in Participant Observation

Clifford Geertz
Deep Play
Notes on the Balinese Cockfight

Frédéric Diaz
Participant Observation as a Tool for Understanding the Field of Safety and Security
James Jacobs
Participant Observation in Prison
Susan Murray
A Spy, a Shill, a Go-Between or a Sociologist
Unveiling the 'Observer' in Participant Observer

Nicholas Wolfinger
On Writing Fieldnotes
Collection Strategies and Background Expectancies

Clifford Geertz
Thick Description
Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture

Judith Okely
Thinking through Fieldwork
M. Bloor
On the Analysis of Observational Data
A Discussion of the Worth and Uses of Inductive Techniques and Respondent Validation

Kenneth Stoddart
The Presentation of Everyday Life
Some Textual Strategies for 'Adequate Ethnography'

Nicholas Holt
Representation, Legitimation and Auto-Ethnography
An Auto-Ethnographic Writing Story

Mónica Moreno Figueroa
Looking Emotionally
Photography, Racism and Intimacy in Research

Ela Beaumont
Using CCTV to Study Visitors in the New Art Gallery, Walsall, U.K.
Angela Garcia et al
Ethnographic Approaches to the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication
Brian Wilson
Ethnography, the Internet, Youth Culture
Strategies for Examining Social Resistance and 'Online-Offline' Relationships

Simon Carmel
Social Access in the Workplace
Are Ethnographers Gossips

Annie Marion Maclean
The Sweat-Shop in Summer
Sandra Danziger
On Doctor Watching
Fieldwork in Medical Settings

Annie Marion Maclean
Two Weeks in Department Stores
Abigail Buckle and David Farrington
An Observational Study of Shoplifting
Amy Tanner
Glimpses at the Mind of a Waitress
Gary Alan Fine
Extracts from Living the Kitchen Life and Appendix: Ethnography in the Kitchen
Laura Nader
Up the Anthropologist
Perspectives Gained from Studying up

George Marcus
Ethnography in/of the World System
The Emergence of Multisited Ethnography

Hugh Gusterson
Studying up Revisited
David Mills and Richard Ratcliffe
After Method? Ethnography in the Knowledge Economy
Douglas Holmes and George Marcus
Fast Capitalism
Para-Ethnography and the Rise of the Symbolic Analyst

Karen Ho
Anthropology Goes to Wall Street
Maurice Punch
Researching Police Deviance
A Personal Encounter with the Limitations and Liabilities of Fieldwork

Richard Spano
Potential Sources of Observer Bias in Police Observational Data
Thomas Kemple and Laura Huey
Observing the Observers
Researching Surveillance and Counter-Surveillance on 'Skid Row'

Joyce Rothschild and Terence Miethe
Whistle-Blower Disclosures and Management Retaliation
The Battle to Control Information about Organizational Corruption


Barry Smart

Barry Smart is Professor of Sociology at the University of Portsmouth and has longstanding research interests in the fields of social theory, political economy, and philosophy. His research interests include critical social research ethics; higher education; and collaborative work on veganism, ethics, lifestyle and environment.  More About Author

Kay Peggs

Kay Peggs is Professor of Sociology at Kingston University (UK), Fellow of the Oxford University Centre for Animal Ethics, and Visiting Fellow in Sociology at the University of Portsmouth (UK). Previously she has worked at the universities of Warwick, Surrey, Portsmouth and Winchester. Her publications include: Identity and Repartnering after Separation (Palgrave, 2007) with Richard Lampard, Animals and Sociology (Palgrave, 2012) and numerous essays and articles in journals such as Sociology, The British Journal of Sociology, and The Sociological Review. She is co-editor of Observation Methods (Sage, 2013) and is assistant editor of the... More About Author

Joseph Burridge

Joseph Burridge is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Portsmouth.  Joseph has considerable editorial experience having co-edited a special issue of the journal Social Semiotics (Vol 18, Issue 3, 2008), which was re-published as an edited book Analysing Media Discourse (Routledge, 2011).  He also organised and edited a special issue of the journal Food and Foodways (Vol 20, Issue 1, 2012).    Joseph teaches research methods across the Portsmouth curriculum, as well as offering a final year module in his area of specialist interest: the sociology of food.  While Joseph’s main research interests... More About Author