Further reading links to supplement your studies.
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The following books and articles provide good examples of participant observation in practice:
- Crang (1994) is an example of participant observation used to examine how a waiter’s work gets done and that by looking closely at this work we can learn about surveillance and display in workplaces.
Crang, P. (1994) ‘It’s showtime: on the workplace geographies of display in a restaurant in South East England’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 12: 675–704.
- Harper et al. (2000) is based on two of the authors spending time working alongside the employees of new telephone-banking facilities and traditional banks and building societies.
Harper, R., Randall, D. and Rouncefield, M. (2000) Organisational Change and Retail Finance: An Ethnographic Perspective. London: Routledge.
- Parr (1998) successfully accesses and helps us understand a vulnerable group within the city using covert participant observation.
Parr, H. (1998) ‘Mental health, ethnography and the body’, Area, 30(1): 28–37.
- Vannini (2012) is an ambitious, extensive and evocatively written participant observation of ferry travel on the West Coast of Canada. There is also a parallel website: http://ferrytales.innovativeethnographies.net
Vannini, P. (2012) Ferry Tales: Mobility, Place, and Time on Canada's West Coast. London: Routledge.
- Venkatesh (2009) is a popular participant observation study of black urban gangs. Venkatesh was originally held hostage by the gang before later being allowed to become a legitimate peripheral participant.
Venkatesh, S. (2009). Gang Leader for a Day. Harmondsworth: Penguin