An observational study was conducted at a fast-food restaurant in the city on a Sunday afternoon. When the study began there were 15 people inside the restaurant, the breakup was as follows: 8 men, 3 women, and 4 children. The weather was quite pleasant, sunny but with a nip in the air. Most of the people who were present were in informal attire. Of the 15 people in the restaurant, four distinct groups were observed totaling 14; one man was on his own. For the purpose of observation, they have been named Group I(4 men), II(2men and 2 women), III(1man, 1 woman, and 4 children), and IV (1 man)
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Group, I consisted of 4 young men; dressed in jeans and jackets, they appeared to be students celebrating an event. Closer observation revealed that it was the birthday of one of them. They kept looking to the entrance of the place fairly frequently and then at their watches, apparently waiting impatiently for the arrival of some more friends to start a party. They continued waiting for their friends, but after half an hour started getting quite impatient. They were on their phones apparently trying to contact them, subsequently, they left.
The men and women in Group II seemed to be in the age group of 25 – 30. Their body language showed that they were in pairs and seemed to be very emotionally attached. Of the four present, there was not much physical contact between one pair; on the other hand, the other pair seemed to be constantly in need of touching each other.
Group III consisted of a family on a Sunday afternoon outing. The father did not seem to be too perturbed, having four children making quite a noise. The mother was trying in vain to get the children (the older 3) to sit down and not run around. After a struggle that took at least fifteen minutes, the children sat down to their meal of burgers and French fries. At one precise moment, the youngest of the lot, maybe a year old, tipped over a can of Coke. There was a lot of squealing and screaming and it took about another ten minutes for things to settle down and for them to resume eating their meal.
Group IV consisted of a single man-eating on his own. He was probably in the age group of 35 to 40 and seemed to be in no hurry at all to finish the burger and Coke that he had bought. Dressed in very casual attire, he seemed very relaxed and at perfect ease with himself and his surroundings.
There was no other specific event that took place during the time of the observation.
As an ethnographic study is meant to observe the behavior of another group, while being part of the group itself, a close watch on the body language of various people was observed. Each group had its own unique body language that was indicative of the age and sex of the person. This has been done to obtain an “emic” perspective. (Morey & Luthans, 1984)
As an observer from Mars, there would be elements of both etic as well as emic perspectives (Karasawa, 2002). In fact, the second would follow the first since as an alien there would be no innate knowledge of what behavior is supposed to be exhibited in a restaurant. As a Martian, one could conclude that fast food restaurants were places where people behaved and dressed informally; a place to relax where food was made available in no time at all.
Morey, Nancy. C. and Luthans, Fred. “An Emic Perspective and Ethnoscience Methods for Organizational Research”. The Academy of Management Review, 9(1) 1984: 27-36.
Karasawa, Minoru. “Patriotism, Nationalism, and Internationalism among Japanese Citizens: An Etic-Emic Approach” Political Psychology, 23(4) 2002: 645-666.