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In A Younger VoiceDoing Child-Centered Qualitative Research$
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Cindy Dell Clark

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195376593

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195376593.001.0001

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Observation and Participant Observation

Observation and Participant Observation

Chapter:
(p.40) 3 Observation and Participant Observation
Source:
In A Younger Voice
Author(s):

Cindy Dell Clark

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195376593.003.0003

Participant observation is one of the sorts of observation discussed, with an emphasis on foregrounding children’s experience. Observation shares with methods of discourse analysis a way to vividly reframe a subject matter in more child-relevant terms. Often the results are unexpected and enlightening, for example, giving a better understanding of youthful social practices. Other observational forms are direct observation, unobtrusive observation, and contrived observation such as videotaping. The reality of doing child-centered participant observation raises challenges. The participant-observer must be socially adept, open, reflexive, tolerant of ambiguity, and able to sustain unrelenting effort. Issues of adult-child interplay are germane to child-centered participant observation. Such issues include: 1) the sort of role a researcher takes; 2) a need to avoid deference towards the adult by children, through a dialogical process of give and take.

Keywords:   direct observation, participant observation, unobtrusive observation, contrived observation, fieldwork, adult-child roles

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