Participant observation is a social science research method that involves immersion of the researcher in the milieu of the lives of the people and situations being studied. It is associated most closely with anthropology and also is used by other disciplines including education, psychology, public health, sociology, and human development. The quintessential principle of participant observation is that the best way to understand another person or group of people is to spend time living their lives with them. This entry discusses the definition and background of participant observation, its use in studies across the life span from infancy to old age, and as a stand-alone method, a hallmark of anthropological fieldwork, and as part of a suite of mixed methods.


In common parlance, participant observation ...

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