3.2 Observation

Author(s): 
Laurence.Kohn
Author(s): 
Wendy.Christiaens

The purpose of participant observation is partly to confirm what you already know (or think you know) but is mostly to discover unanticipated truths. It is an exercise of discovery” (Mack, 2005, p. 23)

In this chapter we explicitly try to focus on direct observation, instead of participant observation. However, two remarks are in place. One, there is nearly always some participation involved in observing, unless the researcher is covered behind for example a one-way mirror. In all other cases the researcher is present in a setting, hence inevitably becomes part of the setting. Second, in the KCE context participant observation is unlikely to be applied because it is very time consuming, intensive and hence is not compatible with KCE working procedures. However, that does not mean that observational techniques are irrelevant to a KCE researcher. They can be very useful, for example in case of site visits. In the following chapter although participating is not the main goal, it often enters the logics and quotes used.