Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Observation is the most direct form of finding out about something. Grounded in direct experience, it offers the possibility of ascertaining the truth. Observation enables us to perceive interaction in real time. Unlike interviewing or survey research, participant frailties of memory and selection do not limit participant observation. Observation has a long record in law and society research. Anthropologists interested in law have long relied on ethnographic fieldwork as their primary source of data. Bronislaw Malinowski's sojourn to the Trobriand Islands produced classical works such as Crime and Custom in Savage Society (1926). A key moment in the anthropology of law was the collaboration between an anthropologist and an academic lawyer. The result, The Cheyenne Way (1941) is an appealing conjoining of anthropological and legal skills. Lawyers elsewhere have used observation as part of their portfolio of research methods. Studies include those by Kenneth Mann on white-collar defense attorneys, favelas ...