Conduct a 50-60 minute participant observation of an interaction with another person or in a public space where they are a minority member. You may observe a direct interaction with another person (e.g., family member, friend, significant other, colleague, peer, other); select a public place to overhear the social exchanges of others, or select a video documentary or interview.
Focus on identifying ONE observed social phenomenon from Myer Part Three Social Influence (Modules 12-21) and ONE observed social phenomenon from Myer Part Four Social Relations (Modules 22-31).
Written paper: Write a summary Describe the participant observation generally. Identify and explain the social phenomenon in your own words. Using the observation as evidence, explain using direct quotes and description for why this fits this social phenomenon. Conclude with your own reflection of what the experience was like, how you felt during this activity, how it was to see the social phenomena happening “in real life,” how it compared to reading about it in the textbook and include ethical reasoning.
Field notes: Take raw hand-written field notes. Include direct quotes written down verbatim.
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For this assignment, students are required to conduct a participant observation of an interaction involving a minority member. They can choose to observe a direct interaction between two individuals, listen to social exchanges in a public space, or analyze a video documentary or interview. The main objective is for students to identify and explain one social phenomenon related to social influence (from Myer Part Three) and another social phenomenon related to social relations (from Myer Part Four).
In my participant observation, I chose to overhear social exchanges in a crowded coffee shop, focusing on the social phenomenon of conformity from Myer Part Three and the social phenomenon of prejudice from Myer Part Four.
During my observation, I noticed a group of friends sitting at a table near me. One person in the group suggested an activity they could all do together over the weekend. However, another member of the group, who happened to be a minority member, expressed a different opinion and suggested a completely different activity instead.
The phenomenon of conformity was evident in this interaction as the rest of the group immediately shifted their preferences and started discussing the suggested activity by the minority member. This demonstrated the tendency for individuals to align their opinions and behaviors with those of a majority or influential group, even when it may go against their own initial preferences.
Simultaneously, I observed the social phenomenon of prejudice. Although the group eventually accepted the suggestion made by the minority member, there was an underlying hesitation and lack of enthusiasm compared to their initial response. This subtle prejudice was evident through their body language, tone of voice, and the overall dynamics of the conversation.
Reflecting on this experience, it was fascinating to see the social phenomena of conformity and prejudice unfold in real life. While reading about them in the textbook provided me with theoretical knowledge, witnessing these phenomena in action allowed me to understand their impact on individuals and groups on a deeper level.
Moreover, I felt a sense of discomfort during the observation as I became aware of the pressures and biases that individuals often face in social situations. It made me question my own behavior and how I may unconsciously contribute to these phenomena in my own interactions.
From an ethical standpoint, it is crucial to recognize the importance of respecting and valuing the opinions and perspectives of minority members. This observation served as a reminder of the need to create inclusive and accepting spaces where individuals can freely express their thoughts without the fear of judgment or prejudice.
In conclusion, this participant observation provided insights into the social phenomena of conformity and prejudice. It highlighted the power of social influence and the complexities of intergroup relations. Witnessing these phenomena in real life was a valuable experience that deepened my understanding of the concepts discussed in the textbook and reinforced the importance of ethical considerations in social interactions.