188.8.131.52 Participant versus direct observation
- he complete observer, who maintains some distance, does not interact and whose role is concealed;
- he observer as participant, who undertakes intermittent observation alongside interviewing, but whose role is known;
- he participant as observer, who undertakes prolonged observation, is involved in all the central activities of the organization and whose role is known;
- he complete participant, who interacts within the social situation, but again whose role is concealed.
Mack et al.54 describe observing as remaining an “outsider” and simply observing and documenting events or behaviors being studied, while participating is taking part in the activity while also documenting it. Pure observing, without participating is a situations that in fact seldom occurs, because once you are present, you are visible, you influence the activities around you, you participate in some degree. There are two reasons for this participation, or to better understand the local perspective, or in order not to call attention to yourself54.
184.108.40.206 Structured versus unstructured observation
- Structured observations are associated with the positivist paradigm and aim at recording physical and verbal behavior by means of a list of predetermined behaviours84.
- Unstructured observations are not ‘unstructured’ in the sense of unsystematic or messy, “instead, observers using unstructured methods usually enter ‘the field’ with no predetermined notions as to the discrete behaviours that they might observe. They may have some ideas as to what to observe, but these may change over time as they gather data and gain experience in the particular setting. Moreover, in unstructured observation the researcher may adopt a number of roles from complete participant to complete observer, whereas in structured observation the intention is always to ‘stand apart’ from that which is being observed” (p307)84.
220.127.116.11 Overt versus covert observation
Covert observation corresponds to two roles in Gold’s typology85, i.e. complete observer and complete participant (see above). Most authors agree that covert observation is only legitimate in very specific circumstances and should be avoided. Mack et al.