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Participant observation of Alcoholics Anonymous

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Participant observation of Alcoholics Anonymous

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  • April 12, 2004
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This paper is an attempt to explore the possible research stances available to me involved in participant observation of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) of the Lehigh County. For this field study I chose to be a complete observer. I have to stay in many assignments I've done I never thought I had to study a group of people with a drinking problem, it was quite sad to listen to a young girls story. I felt like some sort of snitch, spying on a serious group of people, so please take this study seriously it is very heartfelt.

The following study takes place at a meeting hall at Lehigh University's PAL's club on Tuesday, October 21st, 2003 at 7:45 PM. Group therapy of the Alcoholics Anonymous. I must say this was one of the most difficult experiences I've had. At the start of the meeting there were only a few regular male members Stan and Ted present, and the female newcomer. During the opening readings a regular female member, Lynn arrived. The theme for the reading was 'Learning to love ourselves'. During the reading the newcomer cried quietly and apologized with conflicting suppressed tears and nervous laughter in her voice. After the reading the chair (Stan), discovering the presence of a newcomer, spoke of his own experience of drinking and early recovery, particularly in relation to resentment and developing relationships. Another member (Ted) also spoke, addressing his remarks more directly to the newcomer. This is a stylistic variation, as usually in AA meetings sharing is not addressed to a specific audience, except in specific cases like the presence of a newcomer, or if some one has brought up a specific problem early in the meeting.

The newcomer, (whose name I decided to withhold) without the usual self-introduction, asked about religion and spirituality, saying she knew in AA people said it was not a religious program but a spiritual one, but she had not much of an idea about either. Her talk was marked by frequent pauses and eye contact indicating that...