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Discuss Participant Observational Studies Which Have Changed The Sociologists Views And Attitudes. Are These Changes Are Positive Or Negative?

1125 words - 5 pages

Research on human subjects poses many moral, ethical and political dilemmas, the diversity of which are only rarely matched in the natural sciences. However the dilemma of the researchers data based on inner experience rather than fact is also one to consider. This essay will discuss participant observational studies which have changed the sociologists views and attitudes. It will then argue if these changes are positive or negative. The essay will conclude with a summary of the main points.To conduct an ethnographic study in a community is no easy feat however it may seem to first appear. There are many obstacles and unprecedented reactions to a sociologist or anthropologist conducting such a study. The person conducting the study must ask themselves a variety of questions before attempting to integrate into their society of interest. One of the main areas of concern is how much of a distance should one keep so as not to become too attached that it may hinder their observation. This may cause the result to become more subjective than objective.According to Alder and Alder (1987), when studying a subculture particularly adeviant group, "researchers must assume social roles that fit into the worlds they arestudying."(p,8). In order to have an insider's experience and point of view a good researcher should set out to explore everyday realities of these, for example, working class "lads" by immersing themselves into the culture. Entering into the field as a participant researcher, they should intend to take the perspectives of their objects of study, to see the world through their eyes, to feel what they feel, and to experience what they experience. However, they must remember the reason that they are there is too observe and record their findings.The following case study "Learning to Labour" by Paul Willis is an example of a researcher changing his own views and attitudes and assumptions with2an exceptional result. Willis studied a group working class boys in a midlands school, these were known as 'the lads'. From Willis's research he concluded that these 'lads' knew how to achieve in school, they knew what to do to get qualifications but they chose to reject school and form their own 'Counter School Culture'. This culture was based on a feeling of superiority over teachers and the other pupils in the school. They did not value academic work and their main objective in school was to disrupt lessons and 'get away' with whatever they could. Willis argues that these 'lads' are not forced, but rather choose to fail at school. They know their opportunities are limited and so reject school. Through his study he saw that they felt a superiority over the teachers and fellow pupils by abandoning the conformist attitude. Previous studies by, for example, Bowles and Gintis (1976), argue that a students achievements are set by their background and class which they name the 'correspondence principle'. This theory is contested or some might say diminished by...

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