The purpose of this observation assignment was to investigate and interpret the different types of interactions between the individuals and groups present, as well as the environment in which these interactions take place. The various power relationships and sense of hierarchy in addition to the status and authority among the different individuals are also extremely pertinent to this assignment, as the dissection of such interactions and relationships may implicate certain socially constructed gender roles placed on these individuals and society as a whole. The field observation was conducted at the restaurant Pancakes on the Rocks in Sydney. The role adopted, was that of observer as participant. Group structures and dynamics, as well as overall activity, patterns of behavior, and the duration and timing of such behaviors and interactions were observed and recorded. Sociological concepts pertaining to age, gender, class, and ethnicity were also noted and applied.
Pancakes on the Rocks was chosen as an ideal observation space as it is located in the heart of Sydney, thus making it accessible to local members of the community as well as travelers, visitors, and, or tourists looking for socialization. The immense popularity of Pancakes on the Rocks, thanks to its reputation for fantastic pancakes and other breakfast food along with its twenty-four hour service, attracts a rather diverse crowd, allowing for different cultural backgrounds, specifically Australians, Americans, and Asians, to be observed. This restaurant may be assumed to be a moderately priced, or even a fairly inexpensive placed to eat, allowing individuals from a wide range of socio-economic classes to dine. Its bright and modern décor presents a fun, relaxed environment conducive to all ages and groups of individuals, making it a perfect place to observe and record the interactions between, families, friends, and intimate couples. Ultimately, for all of the previously listed reasons, we believed Pancakes on the Rocks to be a place in which quality research-related information could be gathered.
It is not highly unlikely that individuals would feel intimidated or uncomfortable by our observations and note taking. Promoting the rules of ethics pertaining to sociological research, we were prepared to fully explain and disclose the nature and purpose of our study, as well as terminate the observation experiment in the case of an individual's extreme disapproval. Our end goal was to ensure a successful, inconspicuous observational study.
Time & Applications
The observation took place over a one hundred and twenty minute period. This time period allowed us enough time to view individuals as they first entered the restaurant, order their food, eat, socialize, pay the bill, and then finally leave. Our observations and analysis allowed us to make assumptions about the different sociological mechanisms and roles at play. Overall, our conclusions projected a general picture of the social aspects that occur in a densely populated restaurant.
As already stated, the research methodology of this study was that of observation. Observational studies as such are generally centered on deductive reasoning, producing qualitative data that demonstrates a profound understanding of the phenomenon under investigation from the actor's point of view. It is eclectic, which means, the choice of techniques is dependent on the requirement of the research (DQR, 2006). There are four different types of observation, mainly complete participation, participant as observe, observer as participant, and complete observer. For this study the role of observer as participant has been assigned, thus the study group knows that it is being observed by the researchers, but the researches are not part of the study group, nor do the researchers interact with the participants (keeping interaction to an absolute minimum)...
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Data-collection in Qualitative Research (DQR). (2006). www.ssrc.hku.hk/er/qr0204.doc
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Van Krieken, R., Smith, P., Habibis, D., McDonal, K., Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (2000). Sociology: Themes and Perspectives (2nd ed.). Sydney: Longman.
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