Sociology 4810 – Social Research Methods
Assignment 5b – Field Research
Your job is to conduct non-participant observation of social behaviors in a public setting and write up your results in a brief (two to three page) analysis of your observations and findings. The write-up must be typed and presented in a clear and readable format.
The following must be completed in this assignment:
• Choose a public setting where you can unobtrusively station yourself for a full hour and where substantial numbers of people will wander by. Choose a safe and comfortable public place; the CSU cafeteria, the library, Union Station, Millennium Park, a public library, a shopping mall, etc. Do not choose a private business such as a department store. Choose a place where you will be comfortable and where no one will ask you what you’re doing there.
• If you are asked what you are doing truthfully explain that you are doing observations of public behavior for a sociology class.
• Your job is to sit in that place for an hour and make observations of what you see, and record those observations. Consider the following types of observations:
o What are the apparent social and demographic characteristics of the people you see? Consider; age, gender, race and ethnicity, etc.
o How many people are there?
o Do the people seem to have a purpose for being there or is it a general place of public gathering?
o Do people move through the setting in singles, in groups, or is it sporadic?
o Do people move through the place quickly and with purpose or are they meandering and taking their time?
o Do people communicate with one another in this place? If so, what types of things do people seem to be saying to one another?
o Is the overall feeling of the environment positive? negative? in-between?
o Make sure you start recording (on paper) all of your observations the minute your begin.
• In your write-up describe the following:
o Describe the setting.
o Describe the types of things you decided to observe.
o Describe the specifics of what you saw and what you recorded.
o Describe your findings.
o Describe what surprised you and what didn’t.
o Address whether or not your observations were influenced by your own interests and preconceptions.
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