Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 6(10), pp. 775 - 783
DOI: 10.13189/sa.2018.061003
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Opening the Black Box-Three Approaches to Interpretation in Participant Observation Studies

Elisabeth Scheibelhofer *
Department of Sociology, University of Vienna, Austria


Participant observation (PO) is one of the most important methods in qualitative data collection. Nevertheless, published scholarly work on how to analyze data gained from PO is limited. This article reviews the currently most commonly used forms of analysis involving PO data. It is suggested that we can differentiate three main ways in which PO analysis is done in practice. These three "ideal types" (that in practice are often combined with one another) are, first, anthropological approaches; second, Grounded Theory-oriented studies; and third, analytical work oriented towards social scientific hermeneutics. Each of these three main analytical strategies is embedded in specific research traditions and their epistemological contexts. The article provides an overview of these differing approaches and briefly sketches out their use in current qualitative research involving PO.

Participant Observation, Analyses, Methodological Differences

Cite this paper
Elisabeth Scheibelhofer . "Opening the Black Box-Three Approaches to Interpretation in Participant Observation Studies." Sociology and Anthropology 6.10 (2018) 775 - 783. doi: 10.13189/sa.2018.061003.