"The degree to which the researcher involves himself/herself in participation in the culture under study makes a difference in the quality and amount of data he/she will be able to collect. GOLD (1958) has provided a description of observer stances that extend Buford JUNKER's explanation of four theoretical stances for researchers conducting field observations. GOLD relates the four observation stances as follows:
At one extreme is the complete participant, who is a member of the group being studied and who conceals his/her researcher role from the group to avoid disrupting normal activity. The disadvantages of this stance are that the researcher may lack objectivity, the group members may feel distrustful of the researcher when the research role is revealed, and the ethics of the situation are questionable, since the group members are being deceived.
In the participant as observer stance, the researcher is a member of the group being studied, and the group is aware of the research activity. In this stance, the researcher is a participant in the group who is observing others and who is interested more in observing than in participating, as his/her participation is a given, since he/she is a member of the group. This role also has disadvantages, in that there is a trade off between the depth of the data revealed to the researcher and the level of confidentiality provided to the group for the information they provide.
The observer as participant stance enables the researcher to participate in the group activities as desired, yet the main role of the researcher in this stance is to collect data, and the group being studied is aware of the researcher's observation activities. In this stance, the researcher is an observer who is not a member of the group and who is interested in participating as a means for conducting better observation and, hence, generating more complete understanding of the group's activities. MERRIAM (1998) points out that, while the researcher may have access to many different people in this situation from whom he/she may obtain information, the group members control the level of information given. As ADLER and ADLER (1994, p.380) note, this 'peripheral membership role' enables the researcher to 'observe and interact closely enough with members to establish an insider's identity without participating in those activities constituting the core of group membership.'
The opposite extreme stance from the complete participant is the complete observer, in which the researcher is completely hidden from view while observing or when the researcher is in plain sight in a public setting, yet the public being studied is unaware of being observed. In either case, the observation in this stance is unobtrusive and unknown to participants. "
(Barbara B. Kawulich, 2005)
Kawulich, B. (2005). 'Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method'. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/466/996
"The hipster is, concurrently, developing into a form of youth subculture, though at present in a limited sense. Many of the tropes and defining characteristics of teenage tribalism are being draped in hipster attire, but with little of the angst-ridden and socio-economic preliminaries at the base of earlier subcultural trends and movements, such as skinheads, goths and punks (or some recipe based thereon). Without a solid, or at least only slightly shifting, base in materiality and social context, the attire of this set of genuinely disenfranchised youth is sign only; the woolly hat and the running shoe are talismans devoid of any intended meaning; the world seems flooded with signs without symbolism, with younger converts to the hipster 'style' aping their ape forebears. The sign has, in this context, lost its original referent and become 'hyperreal' (Baudrillard, 1994, p.1). The 'real' origin of the sign's meaning has been lost, or buried under meaningless affectation; the borrowing and commodification of a modern exoticism; that of various minority or 'retro' alternative fashions and attitudes. In reference to subcultural groups, Hebdige notes that 'humble' objects can be magically appropriated; 'stolen' by subordinate groups and made to carry 'secret' meanings' (1979, cited in Haralambos and Holborn, 2004, p.808). This explains the way punks could style safety pins into a new context, and teddy boys could subvert the traditional connotations of Edwardian formality – the coded meanings that charge such appropriated style-objects amounted to a kind of resistance to the ruling order, be that signified by the state or in the 'square' world of the mainstream. Each subculture is in some way 'spectacular', in that it creates a spectacle and intends to be noticed. The hipster is daily losing this status, as s/he becomes overloaded with signifiers (aesthetic surface) and has become divorced from the collective; there is no need for internal reinforcement against a subordinating external force when one has such a slippery class composition. The hipster is not oppressed, and purports to signify the pinnacle of individual choice and cultural savoir faire (though this position is problematized by the amoebic development of a youth subculture with roots in working class communities). The hipster's resistance is not to social subordination but to modernity itself, to a meaning-deficit brought on by a loosely defined, insecure mainstream culture that is less and less able to provide collective ontological sustenance. Perhaps the youth-hipster is an attempt to introduce a degree of collectivity in order to partially overcome alienation and inwardness, though this does not excuse the continued loss of substance and meaning in style and aesthetic value."
(Michael Reeve, 2013, Academia.edu)
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