An example of this can be seen in Whytes study into street corner gangs (1955). " As i sat and listened, I learned the answers to questions I would not have had the sense to ask, if I had been getting my information on an interviewing basis." ( Whyte 1955.)
The main reason that interpretivists use participant observation is validity...
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Validity refers to how accurate and authentic the data collected is, although some positivist sociologists believe that participant observation should not be used, even when the data is more valid, it is neither a reliable or representative form of research. The researcher who decides on an overt participant observation, may influence the study, as the group which is being studied may act differently, due to the researchers presence, which then makes it less reliable...