Participant Observation in a Sociological Experiment

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Choice of setting and observations collected The widest interest for this participant observation was how subjects interacted in a situation where there was a limited resource without formal mediation for access. Personal experience at airports, for example, revealed that once boarding is announced, often many passengers voluntarily assemble, pick up and put down their luggage as they move step by step forward in a slow, extended line even though they all have pre-assigned seat numbers, while many passengers simply wait, seated, without all the effort entailed by joining the line, and then walk straight through the ticket entry. A similar process often happens boarding buses at the downtown central station, although with more incentive due to limited capacity and first-come, first served seat assignment. Therefore the research interest became how individuals negotiate bus boarding at the central downtown transit center, and if they interact with each other before and after boarding. The researcher would masquerade as a fellow traveler and attempt to categorize different behaviors. Howard Becker's 1958 advice is still relevant, and contrasts a seeming trend toward synthesizing templates often presented to undergraduates as "the" way to approach research in the humanities. "The observer, possessing many provisional problems, concepts, and indicators," Becker pointed out more than 50 years ago, "now wishes to know which of these are worth pursuing as major foci of his
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