Skills of a Participant Observer

Learning the Language - learning to speak and understand the language of the people studied; learn insider phrases; people will begin to elevate their level of discourse with you

Building explicit awareness - awareness of the little, often taken for granted, details of life

Building Memory - building one's ability to remember things that happen or are observed in the field.  Practice as well as developing a method for jotting notes can help with this.

Maintaining Naivete - trying to maintain a position of inexperienced member of a social setting or culture.  Developing this position of 'novice' is particularly difficult when one studies a familiar culture.

Building writing skills - developing the ability to write comfortably and clearly


Bernard, HR. (1988). Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology. (pp 152-160). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.