When talking about specific research methods, you need to always mention: WWWE What, who, why, evaluation – This should act as your introduction and conclusion.
What Participant observation is where a group or individual is observed and the researcher joins in. This can either be undertaken in a covert (undercover fashion), or overt (being honest and open with participants).
Interpretivists would tend to use participant observations as it gives a first hand insight in to human behaviour.
Studies you need to refer to:
PATRICK (1973)went covert in a gang and illustrates the dangers. He managed to get close to the gang leader Tim because of the age similarities, however, as the gang became more violent, he had to leave abruptly. When he published his papers years later, it had to be under a different name.
HUMPHRIES (1970)illustrates how the nature of an experiment can change. At first, he acted as a lookout for a group who was involved in illegal homosexual sexual activities (covert). After he gained trust, he declared the nature of the experiments to participants who allowed him to interview them in different ways (overt).
PUNCH (1979)shows difficulty in entering groups when overt with a group of police officers. The police only let Punch see certain things making his results less valid. Eventually, after spending time with the police he ending up chasing suspects resulting in lower validity. BARKER (1984)attempted to investigate (The Moonies) who were a religious sect accused of brainwashing people. He spend 6 years overtly with them. Because of this time, his data has been accused of being low in validity because he may have been brainwashed himself.