Participant Observation

Participant Observation : A Guide for Fieldworkers

By (author) Kathleen M. DeWalt , By (author) Billie R. Dewalt

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Participant Observation is a central and defining method of research in cultural anthropology, as well as a common feature of qualitative research in other disciplines-sociology, education, health sciences. The authors provide the basic guide to the participant observation field methods of collection of systematic data in naturalistic settings-communities in many different cultures. It is a valuable primer for the beginning researcher, as well as a reference for the experienced ethnographer.

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  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 147.3 x 226.1 x 20.3mm | 453.6g
  • 01 Dec 2001
  • AltaMira Press,U.S.
  • California
  • English
  • references, index
  • 0759100454
  • 9780759100459
  • 719,637

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Author Information

Kathleen M. DeWalt is Professor of Anthropology and Public Health and New Director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh; Billie R. DeWalt is director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History and holds appointments as distinguished professor of public and international affairs and professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Review quote

Kathleen and Billie DeWalt have produced a stellar addition to our increasingly sophisticated library of anthropological research methodology. My feeling is that every doctoral student headed for fieldwork will be well-equipped if she or he is carrying copies of Russ Bernard's Handbook of Methods, The Ethnographer's Toolkit by Schensul and LeCompte, and Participant Observation. I am particularly impressed with the contents as practical, daily-use information in the field. It is presentedin an eclectic, 'pick what you like' range of styles and possibilities, with excellent examples from a wide array of sources. The book provides a remarkably clear demystifying view of 'participant observation,' the usually hazy concept that is a definingaspect of field anthropology. Their discussion makes it clear that participant observation is not synonymous with ethnographic fieldwork ... and that anthropological fieldwork consists of a medley of methods, for which participant observation is usually the foundation and framework, enabling and enhancing other, more structured, data-gathering. The book is remarkably free of unnecessary jargon, and the authors make excellent use of concrete examples from their own and other peoples' field experiences t -- Pertti J. Pelto, professor emeritus, University of Connecticut Kathleen and Billie DeWalt have produced a stellar addition to our increasingly sophisticated library of anthropological research methodology. My feeling is that every doctoral student headed for fieldwork will be well-equipped if she or he is carrying copies of Russ Bernard's Handbook of Methods, The Ethnographer's Toolkit by Schensul and LeCompte, and Participant Observation. I am particularly impressed with the contents as practical, daily-use information in the field. It is presented in an eclectic, 'pick what you like' range of styles and possibilities, with excellent examples from a wide array of sources. The book provides a remarkably clear demystifying view of 'participant observation,' the usually hazy concept that is a defining aspect of field anthropology. Their discussion makes it clear that participant observation is not synonymous with ethnographic fieldwork ... and that anthropological fieldwork consists of a medley of methods, for which participant observation is usually the foundation and framework, enabling and enhancing other, more structured, data-gathering. The book is remarkably free of unnecessary jargon, and the authors make excellent use of concrete examples from their own and other peoples' field experiences to illustrate each significant point. The DeWalt's use a remarkably wide range of fieldwork literature, ranging from Cushing (19th century) and Malinowski down to their own and others' recent research experiences. This highly effective use of examples from so many different types and locations of fieldwork gives added strength to their generalization that participant observation as method can be fitted with practically all theoretical perspectives. -- Pertti J. Pelto, professor emeritus, University of Connecticut

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