Participant observation is a research strategy employed by social science researchers to gain insights into the day to day activities of actors within a specific setting.
Participant observation is a strategy that provides researchers with the context relative to which interviewee accounts can be interpreted (e.g. Family Council participation by families of Chinese residents in long-term care, the consequences of failing to provide childcare for older Punjabi women’s access to a health promotion program. It also exposes the researcher to events and dynamics that are not referenced by interviewees. For example, had I not conducted 77 hours of participant observation on the special care unit where "Leonard" resided, I would not have understood how he was being scapegoated for problems that had systemic origins.