Exercise 2

1.   Choose a suitable topic (where subjective meanings are important) — e.g.

  • how do students cope with this course?
  • what explains deviant activities (missing school, plagiarism, buying girlie mags, drinking to excess)?
  • what does the world look like to interesting minority groups e.g. computer nerds, train spotters, fans of particular groups, members of charismatic churches.

2.   Consider any quantitative data that is around (e.g demographic data on ages, genders, social class backgrounds etc).

3.    Formulate initial hypotheses and beliefs.

4.   Consider targetted observations -- which group can you actually study? How will you contact them?

5.   How will you manage and record  the data?

6.   Will you choose to record:

  • typical examples?
  • negative cases?
  • only ‘spontaneous’ behaviour?
7.   Pilot the techniques and record problems and prospects. Try it out, see how easy it is to observe unobtrusively, control your own views, attempt to record data. What should you tell curious participants about your work?