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Assess the Strengths and Limitations of Participant Observation for the Study of Labelling in Schools.

In: Social Issues

Submitted By geedelight
Words 334
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The term labelling is used when someone attaches a person with a meaning or definition to them. For example, a teacher may use labelling to label students with titles such as bright or thick, trouble maker or hardworking.
Participant observation is where a researcher takes part in the event or ordinary life of a group while observing it. There are two types of types of participant observation- covert and overt observation. Covert observation is when the study is carried out undercover, and the researcher’s real identity and purpose are kept a secret. Overt observation is the complete opposite where the researcher makes their true identity and purpose known to those being studied.
The provided text looks into researching gender relations in school. Gender relations can cause many issues for the researcher, especially if the researcher is of a different gender. The item suggests that teachers working in the school may disguise their sexist attitudes because they have a professional duty to treat all pupils the same but they may find it hard to put up with this act when being observed over a long period of time.
A strength of participant observation is that results are usually valid. Rather than getting a participant to fill out a questionnaire when there is no real way of telling if they are giving accurate answers, participant observation can however provide great amounts of qualitative data and the researcher can put his findings into great detail. By observing ethnic minorities and teacher/student interaction towards them, the sociologist can gain understanding of their viewpoints and actions. Studies that take place in a natural setting e.g. a classroom raise validity as the students are more likely to behave in their normal manner, rather than if they were taken into a lab, they may react and treat ethnic minorities differently to conform to social accepted…...

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