Research Topic and Outline

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For part one of this analysis, a non-participant observation of a social setting was observed. The location was a local superstore, which serves as a retail and grocery store, and is the primary shopping center in a small town of twelve thousand people. The observation was held on Friday, October 26, 2012 at 2:15 p.m. The architecture of the building was an open floor design with a layout resembling a large square or box. There was a large amount of floor space, which made it easy to see where one may need to go in order to meet their shopping needs. The fluorescent lighting in the store was bright but not overwhelming and there were no burned out or flickering bulbs. Most of the area in the store consisted of floor displays which held promotional items. The displays located directly in view were pumpkins, Halloween candy and small children’s Halloween costumes. To the right of the observation location, the doors led to the outside and to the front were checkout lanes. In total, there were thirty checkout lanes but only fifteen in direct view, which were noted with the numbers sixteen through thirty on top of large, easily seen poles with lights indicating which lanes were open, five of which were lit. To the left was a wide open space that led to more checkout lane, an eye care center and pharmacy. This direction also led to another exit of the store.

The furniture in the vicinity consisted of two benches, one of which was being utilized for the observation. The other held an elderly, perhaps in her late seventies, white female who was sitting with a few groceries at her side. There were many decorations surrounding the store which were geared to a Halloween theme. Overhead, popular music played over the system. Sometimes the songs were louder than other times but that was due to the amount of periodic foot traffic passing nearby. Most of the sounds were created by the traffic and consisted of people talking to one another or from talking on cell phones. The smell in the store was pleasant. The breads in the local bakery were wafting through the store. Sometimes an occasional smell of body odor was detected when people walked through the area.

Participant Description

The demographic of people entering the store varied but the majority were white, middle-class, female and between the ages of 35-50. The males who entered the store were between the ages of 55-70, also white and middle-class. The employees that could be seen from the observation point were more varied but only in terms of age. The women were white and ranged between the ages of 40-65. Male employees were a bit older than the female median and ranged between the ages of 50-65.

Patrons of the store were wearing casual clothing: jeans or pants, light jackets and comfortable shoes. Four female employees, who were cashiers, were smiling and greeting customers; one female employee, also a cashier, never looked at the customer, greeted or smiled. One male employee, who was a greeter, was friendly and greeted each patron warmly. Two male employees, who seemed to be monitoring the front area of the store, were friendly but preoccupied with the goings-on in the store. All employees wore khaki or brown pants, blue shirts or smocks and all wore athletic shoes. Each employee wore a name tag.

For the most part, female patrons walked in with a purpose; they gathered a cart and pushed it toward their destination in a hurry. A few elderly people were walking much slower and some of the elderly on the electric carts were blocking the pathway of those walking. The people required to walk around the electric carts were quite aggravated and displayed scowls. The elderly male and female patrons did not seem to notice. Many of the elderly on the carts took a very long time to move from the vicinity. On a number of occasions, the elderly male and female patrons stalled the flow of traffic by arranging coupons. Thoughts on...
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