New York Times Article.


Sudhir Venkatech opted to use participant observation to do the research on the life of the poor because it is the most effective means to gather accurate information. Through the observation method and opinion surveys, which he initially tried, the hostility in responses could not even be printed, as Grimes disclosed. It could be surmised that the residents did not respond, gave absurd responses, cursed at the situation, or dismissed the researcher as another person to avoid.

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One of the advantages of the participant observation method is that the researcher gets the opportunity to get direct and first-hand information by experiencing the situation himself. Through this method, the researcher also validates the veracity of the information being collected and therefore accuracy and reliability is assured.On the other hand, the disadvantage of this method is that the researcher is exposed to all the dangers, hazards and risks integrated with the situation, among the people he intends to observe.

As disclosed, the special dangers that the research posed to Venkatesh were being included among members of the gang and therefore exposed him to the violent activities these members conduct. Grimes (2008) noted that “when a rival gang sweeps by, guns blazing, he dodges bullets and helps drag a gang lieutenant to safety. When local squatters mete out street justice to a crackhead who has beaten a woman in the projects, he gets a boot in” (Grimes, 2008, par. 5). Further, as supported in Hilbert’s (1980) work, “not all covert participant observation research is necessarily unethical, although such research does invariably create its own particular problems. Among these are the need to maintain a credible identity and the problems of gathering data in an unobtrusive, yet accurate manner” (p. 51).

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