What arethe strengths and weaknesses of participant observation as a method?
Participantobservation is a micro method used in conducting field work. Itsstrengths and weaknesses are mentioned below:
(i)Itprovides a very rich and detailed picture of the people on whom theresearch is being conducted.
(ii)The sociologist can talk to the native people of the communitydirectly which helps in the authenticity of the data.
(iii)The sociologist is free to ask endless number of questions to theperson. This is not possible in case of questionnaire and survey.
(iv)A daily record is maintained which reduces the chances ofincomplete data.
(v) Ithelps in correcting initial impressions that may often be biased.
(vi)Because of the long hours spend with the field many errors and biasesare avoided that are present in other methods.
(i) Themethod involves a lot of time and effort.
(ii) Italso involves lot of expenses during the work.
(iii) Itis not necessary that the report consists of the views of the insideror of the sociologist, as the sociologist may become consciously orunconsciously bias in selecting what to write and what not to.
(iv) Thereis no other version available to check or confirm the findings exceptthe sociologist him/herself.
(v) Thesociologist or anthropologist is only able to study a very smallcommunity. Therefore, it cannot be guaranteed that the observation ofthe study of the village is really common in the larger community.
(vi) Thereport of the sociologist based on participant observation method isoften criticised to be biased by other sociologists because of theone-sided relationship they project. Hence, it is advised that thereport should be translated in the local language of the community sothat the people of the community can read and make sure that thereport contains proper information.