Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
A FRAMEWORK FOR REPORTING FIELD-RELATIONS EXPERIENCES*

Stephen A. Richardson


INTRODUCTION

THE SKILLS required by field workers in social research can be regarded as belonging in two categories: (1) the primary skills, which are those required for the selection, collection, and analysis of data; and (2) the secondary skills, which are those required for establishing and maintaining satisfactory relationships between the field worker or research team and the people in the organization or community being studied.

The secondary skills are essential prerequisites for any field research which is to be carried on for an extended period of time. Although it has long been the practice in reporting research to include a section on the methods employed, it is only recently that attempts have been made to make explicit the secondary or "field-relations" skills, as I shall refer to them, required in research. These attempts are of great value because they enable researchers to profit from one another's experiences and thus reduce the trial-and-error type of learning in the field, which can be costly in terms of wasted research time, social hurt, and the reputation of social science research. Mann,1, 2 Lippitt, 2 and Paul3 have emphasized the need for the codification of skills in field relations, and their papers discuss the types of skills that have been reported by field workers in anthropology and sociology, as well as contain valuable bibliographies.

____________________
*
Modified from Human Organization, Vol. 12, No. 3 ( 1953), pp. 31-37.
1
Floyd C. Mann ( 1951).
2
Floyd C. Mann and Ronald Lippitt ( 1952b).
3
Benjamin D. Paul ( 1953).
[EDITOR'S NOTE: See cases by Gullahorn and Strauss and by Wax in this volume.]
This paper was prepared in connection with the Field Methods Training Program, sponsored by the Cornell University Social Science Research Center. The author assumes full responsibility for the ideas here stated but wishes to thank the advisory committee of the project, Professors Urie Bronfenbrenner, John P. Dean, and William F. Whyte, as well as the people whose names appear in this paper, for many of the ideas which appear herein.

-124-

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