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Q. 1. What is observation?Explain its definitions and features.
Ans. In social research, data has been collected with a number of methods such as schedule, questionnaire, interview etc. But in all these data is collected by asking questions to other person. In schedule method, the respondent gives answer to the questions of researcher and researcher notes down those answers and fills them in the schedule or questionnaire. In detailed interview, the source of information is related person. In these all techniques researcher has to depend upon the information given by researcher. But in observation method researcher observes himself the phenomena. In this he does not depends upon others. That’s why observation method is known as more reliable than other method. The meaning of observation is the detailed observance to know about those phenomena which happened in interrelation. P.V. Young gave it a name of Aimful Study. According to her, “Observation is the aimful study through eye which can be used as a method of minute study of social behaviour and complex social institutions as well as of different units of a collectivity.” According to Moser, “In real sense the meaning to observation is with the use of eyes instead of using ears and voice.” In this way in observation these things are there:
1. In this knowledge of phenomena is through eyes. Yet we can use ears and voice but instead of eyes their importance and use is very less.
2. Observation is always aimful and minute. Here it is different from general observation. Even in daily life we see a lot of things but that cannot be called as observation. Observation always has a specific aim. That’s why it is detailed and minute. To draw conclusion it is must. Social phenomena occurs in front of everyone but others cannot see any characteristics in that. The reason of this is the minuteness, cautious and detailed observation. Without aim, researcher will move here and there and he cannot go up to deepness of facts. The aim of observation is to know about their relation and causal effect. Yet any detailed aimful observance can be called as observation but its scientific meaning is to know about their causal effect relations. In this way for observation hypothesis is necessary. Without hypothesis, it is without the deepness which is needed for drawing exact conclusions. With hypothesis we can limit the area of observation that is why we have to observe. In simple observation many activities and actions can occur in front of us but if we will go with hypothesis then we just concentrate on those activities which are necessary for the verification of hypothesis. With this the work of observation becomes very easy. On the basis of this explanation we can give many features of observation method.
1. Observation is an important method in social research to collect data about any phenomena.
2. In this method there is no need for a researcher to depends upon anyone for the collection of data but he gets a chance to use his senses with which the facts become more reliable.
3. Observation method gives chance of minute observation of any phenomena.
4. The data collected by this method are more reliable than the data collected by other methods.
5. This is the method which we can see and in which researcher does’t depend upon any one but observer himself to phenomena and finishes his study.
6. Through this method scientific minuteness is possible.
7. Because of its qualities, this method is very easy.
8. In this researcher does not believe on anyone but collects data only after looking by his eyes.
9. This is a universally famous method which is used in Natural and Social Sciences with same status.
Q. 2. What do you know about Participant Observation?Write briefly.
Ans. Participant Observation : The word Participant Observation was first time used by Lindeman in 1924 in his book Social Discovery. Yet as a method it was started before this. He had written that, “Participant Observation is based on this concept that the observation of any phenomena can be done purely if when it could have been made by the mixture of external and internal point of view. In this way the point of view of that person who has taken part in the phenomena and whose interests and feelings are involved with that in any type will definitely be different from that persons point of view who will not be a participant but just stays as a observer.”
While definig of participant observation Maze wrote that, “When the feelings of observer will be intermixed with the feelings of other persons and he will not become as an representative of the far of laboratory then it should be understood that he has got the right to be called as participant observer.” Maze emphasised on the unification of group with observer. His observer will be called as participant only when he starts to feel homogeneity with the group, when his point of view will be mixed with the views of group and when his feelings will become the feelings of the group.With participant observation, observer can become the part of the group in many ways. He can take any work of the group in his own hands so that he must be in the contact of the group to be studied. For example the work of teaching for the study of students. He should take work in his hands in the same way the way in which he has to study the society. He should try that he should be able to take part in all the activities of the group.
Q.3. What are the merits of survey method?Write briefly.
Ans. As compared to other methods, survey method has following merits:
(i) In Survey method, researcher comes in direct contact with the people, whom he wants to study. Researcher himself observe the things and even faces the realities of life. His conclusion are not based upon assumptions but are based upon the facts. If researcher try to draw conclusion on the basis of his personal experience or already existed theories then it will be wrong. This method helps in knowing the actual behaviour of a person and the conclusion drawn from it are generally reliable.
(ii) Great objectivity comes with this method. The collected data is not affected by any one's personal beliefs or ideas. As large number of field workers are used, it leads to removal of possibility of personal bias. In many cases, actual survey has led to completely different results than arrived at through purely theoretical wanderings. That's why surveys are used to test the validity of many theories.
(iii) A number of problems and propositions comes to the lime light with general surveys which would have not been possible by complete theoretical analysis. A theoretical analysis gives rise to a hypothesis and never beyond it. Analysis of survey results can point out to the hypothesis that may be completely outside the scope of existing theory. They may very well lead to the introduction of new theory.
(iv) If a survey is based upon participant observation, it allows complete emotional impact of social situation. No amount of imagination can take the place of actual experience.
(v) It is one of the method which is used quite widely. In social sciences, experimental method is not possible but survey method is the most scientific method for providing reliable data. Some of the types of survey are used in anthropology, sociology, and even in natural sciences. It is a universal process with which comparative study is made possible.
Q. 4. What are the merits and demerits of observation method?
Merits of Observation Method
1. Simplicity : The major advantage of observation method is its simplicity. For interview we need enough training and tacts but the observation of any phenomena is very easy. Whichever things attract our attention, to see it and try to understand it is our nature. That’s why among the methods of social research first one is observation.
2. Reliability : The facts or information collected through observation are reliable. It is true that many sources are there in the impurity of results but still the information collected through this method is more reliable than information collected through the other methods. In interview and questionnaire, researcher completely depends upon respondent, he does not have any knowledge in himself. But in observation method, he can see and observe himself. If observer is tactful and clever, he can collect more reliable information.
3. Facility to see truth : With this method we can get the facility to see the truth with our eyes. If observer leaves anything or the collected information is wrong then is can be observed again. But in interview we don’t have any right over sourceof information. That’s why if respondent tells a lie then we cannot see the truth.
4. Common method : Observation is a common method for all sciences. Interview is the method which is used specially in case of social sciences, but observation is common to all the sciences and naturally has greater universality of practice. Rules of observation are the same for all sciences, whether physical or social. A common method is most commonly followed and accepted as a tool.
Demerits of Observation Method
1. Some phenomena do not give chance to observe : The problems related to observation can occur due to two reasons. First is that the person will not be able to know about the occurrence of phenomena and second, the related persons will not give the chance to observe. For the observation of social phenomena, it is necessary that the related persons should be ready for that. But in the area of personal life it happens very less.
2. Absence of observer : This type of problem is caused by the uncertainty of the event. Many social events are most uncertain, the time and place of their occurrence can not be pre-planned. The event may take place when the observer is not present. On the other hand, even when the observer is constantly present the event may not take place.
3. Possibility of non co-operation of observation methods : Many social researches are related with abstract facts such as feelings, habits, thoughts etc. They cannot be observed. How can we come to know that what a person is thinking?Which type of feelings are coming in his mind? What is his view about any particular phenomena? This thing also applies on past events. That’s why in social researches, people ask questions and collect data instead of observation.
4. Personal bias : The personal bias of observer also at times distorts the observation. We can generally used to view things from a particular point of view, our sense organs are not perfect as allow us to see things in their complete form. We generally notice one or more aspects of them and those aspects are generally those with which we are quite familiar. Similarly we have our own ideas of right and wrong developed mainly through the culture complex. While observing a phenomena all these complexes affect out vision
Q. 5. What are the limitations of Interview method?
Ans. As a research methodology, interview method has many limitations as under:
1. There is always a doubt over the truth of the information got by this method. There is a possibility of many mistakes because of many reasons. The things which were used to remove invalidity might not proved effective. Through schedule we can get information by way of small question-answers but in this we get information through story type descriptions which can be wrong or full of lies. The imagination of man gets power from this and most of the parts are imaginative.
2. To make ready a person for interview is also a problem. In schedule, questions are very small about which people can give answers but to explain those phenomena which occured with them, very few people will be ready to give response. More problem will arise if the subject of the research is related with the personal life of the respondent such as research of love marriage or divorce.
3. For the direction and organization of interview, cleverness and intelligence of very high quality is required. The personality of the interviewer should be good enough so that he can force the respondent to speak truth. The workers appointed by researcher,lack this quality. Its result can come in the collection of non-reliable, non-related information.
4. This method is basically human oriented method. Whatever respondent speaks depends upon that who is the listner. That's why his description changes according to persons. Except this different persons are explaining one phenomena according to their own point of view. That's why there can be different descriptions of same phenomena.
5. In this method, interviewer completely depends upon the will of respondent. In the absence of direct observation it is very difficult to decide that how much part of the description is true and how much if false. Even if the respondent is honest then it is also quite possible that his memory is too weak, he don,t have enough capacity to understand deeply any phenomena or he is not able to explain any phenomena properly.
6. Such descriptions are completely influenced by the feelings, they are not proven and people are describing according to their own way. Generally respondent and interviewer imagine two different type of atmospheres and social philosophy. Their thoughts about any social phenomena can be different from each other. Even if their thoughts are the same then also it is quite possible that they could have left any important experience. With this their description will become useless and one sided affair.
7. If the interviewer does not have good and infuential personality and the feeling of inferiority can come in him in front of respondent. In this condition the collected facts will not be complete facts. Contrary to that if interviewer is clever, he can move interview in his way. In both the conditions mistakes can come in research. Very few interviewers can win over this situation.