Included surveillance - Sociolinguistics

Enabled monitoring

One of the most effective ways to overcome the observer's paradox - the so-called included observation. This way of studying the behavior of people is that the researcher becomes a member of the group he observes. For example, sociologists often become members of production brigades, geological parties, department employees in research institutes, and so on. This, first, gives them the opportunity to study group behavior from within and in all or in many situations of intra-group communication and, secondly, eliminates the need to declare to the studied individuals the purposes of their observations and even (if possible) that such observations are generally made.

Naturally, the included observation can be when nothing prevents the researcher from identifying with the members of the observed social group - on racial, national, linguistic, behavioral and other grounds. To the European, for example, it is difficult to carry out the included surveillance in groups of Chinese or Negroes; an adult researcher can not be fully assimilated in the group of adolescents he studies; a city-dialectologist is always perceived by the villagers as a person not from their environment, etc.

If there are no such obstacles, and the observer is able to infiltrate the group, becoming "the same as all", he can successfully hide his research intentions, and then actions. Exposure it leads to failure, and in some situations is dangerous for the life of the observer. Thus, two ethnographers, the European, studied the way of life, the behavior and the language of the dervishes-the vagrant Muslim monks-and so skillfully mimicked that the monks mistook them for their own; they were unmasked by the habit of automatically beating the musical rhythm with their foot, which is completely alien to the dervishes. Known for the case with a prisoner philologist who in the camp tried to covertly from other prisoners to record thieves' jargon. However, his position as an intellectual stranger among the criminal people quickly led to the fact that neighbors in the barracks exposed him and found him a snitch. With great difficulty, he managed to prove the scientific nature of his studies, after which he even began to help in the collection of material.

Sociolinguistics is actively mastering the method of included observation, borrowed from sociologists. To study the speech behavior of people, this method is in some sense even more necessary than in sociological studies: a person's speech is more sensitive than many other aspects of his behavior to external influences that distort the true linguistic life of the individual and the whole collective; therefore the task of eliminating these external influences is even more urgent here.

As with external, and with included observation, the researcher must record the observed speech material. Fixation can be carried out in two main ways: manually and instrumentally.

Handwritten notes are handy because they do not need to be specially prepared: if you have a pencil and paper, and your ear is "set up" on the military -

yew certain facts of speech, then provided that the observed object (person or group of people) does not know about your intentions or, knowing, does not protest against them, records can be implemented relatively easily and successfully. Especially effective are handwritten notes when observing random, seldom appearing speech units in the speech stream - words, word forms, syntactic constructions. If the task is not to investigate individual facts, but, for example, a coherent speech, the nature of the dialogical interaction of people in the process of communication, features of pronunciation, intonation and speech behavior in general, then the hand-written record is unproductive: the observer is able to fix only individual links of the speech chain, and the choice of these links is always subjective.

Therefore, for most of the problems solved by modern sociolinguistics in the study of oral speech, it is characteristic to use instrumental technology - mainly tape recorders and dictaphones (for video recording of gestural and mimic behavior, video cameras are also used). Their use can be open and hidden. When the recorder is open, the researcher informs informants about the purpose (true or false) of his records and tries to reduce the so-called "microphone effect", which to some extent blocks the natural behavior of the individuals being studied, during their speech.

Researchers of modern United States colloquial speech, carried out in the 70-ies. XX century. mass records of spontaneous oral speech, came to the conclusion that with prolonged communication with informants, the effect of the microphone can be largely removed, and most of the records of interviews with informants, their stories about various situations of their life, indicate a fairly free speech behavior of people with included a tape recorder (see the cycle of works on United States colloquial speech: (Zemskaya, 1968, United States ..., 1973; United States ..., 1978; Zemskaya et al., 1981; United States ..., 1983).

However, this behavior is even more free and natural, if the speaker does not know that his speech is being recorded (and such material, as is quite obvious, is the most valuable). Therefore, in cases where it is possible, sociolinguists widely use the hidden instrumental record. When there are no such possibilities, some researchers combine an open and a hidden record. So U. Labov, while working with his informants, made tape recordings and video recordings in an open manner, and then announced a break in work, and when the subjects relaxed while resting, conducting leisurely conversations with each other, received data on spontaneous speech speaking already with the help of secretly working tape recorders and video cameras (Labyy, 1966).

Hidden tape recording is often used in field conditions: in a shop, a train car, at a railway ticket office, at a doctor's reception, etc. In these cases, it is possible to obtain a mass material characterizing the stereotypical behavior of people in a standard situation, to record differences of similar stereotypes (questions, answers, replicas) depending on the social characteristics of the communicants.

With included observation, especially with instrumental fixation of speech observed, the important factor is the ethical factor. If the observation was conducted at least in some systematic way and other people's speech works - the ego is not accidentally heard phrases on the street, then to use them (especially if you have in mind the publication) it is desirable to obtain the consent of the observed individual. In any case, the anonymity of the subjects should be respected - of course, if this does not contradict their own desire.

In all the described types of external and included observation, these are the ways of collecting sociolinguistic information when the researcher observes the speech behavior of individuals or groups of people without trying to influence this behavior and even trying to outwardly not reveal his position as an observer.


However, often scientists are faced with the need to solve problems on a certain, pre-selected language material. In other words, the study should not be subjected to a speech stream as a whole, but some of its fragments, including certain words, word forms, some (for example, phonetic or morphological) variants, etc. Objective fixation of spontaneous speech behavior of people in this case would require a very long time and effort, because it is impossible "to order" speaking to the production of only those speech facts that the researcher is interested in, and these facts would have to be "fished out" from large arrays of records.

To avoid this, the methods of collecting sociolinguistic material are made directional. Direct methods of collecting sociolinguistic material (interviews) include oral interviews and questionnaires.

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