Evaluate the Uses and Limitations of Participant Observation as a Method of Sociological Enquiry.

Participant observation is a method used by researchers to gather information on a certain group, in which they become a member of the group to gain in depth knowledge.
There are two types of participant observation, these being covert and overt. Overt observation is where the group knows your identity, and what you are doing. This can be useful as it means you can act yourself, and you don’t have to be overly secretive about doing the research and you can take down notes in front of the group, allowing you to make note of all the information you receive, you can also hand out things such as questionnaires to the group which you could not do with covert. However the down side to using overt participant observation is that the group may not reveal certain things that you may be trying to find out, purely because they know what your identity is and do not trust you with such information.
Covert observation is where the group does not know your identity or that you are doing research on them. To the group you are one of them. This is good as it means you can gain their trust much easier, and they will be likely to share with you things they wouldn’t if they knew you were purely researching them. This method also has down sides to it. For instance when taking information down, if you receive a large lot of information at once, it could be hard to remember all of it, and the researcher may have to keep making excuses (e.g going to the toilet) to go and make note of what they have found out. By doing this it could make you look extremely suspicious. There is also the risk of the group finding out your identity, and removing you from the group which would result in your research coming up short, or in a drastic scenario, the group may even turn violent, which could result in the researcher being physically abused.
This research can also be very dangerous mentally, for instance a researcher could join a group looking to research in to it, and by the end of the research...