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Observing the Implicit and Explicit Communication of Rules Case Study

Introductory Statements

Communication is a crucial factor in human interaction and socialization. It determines how people socialize and relate with their age mates, seniors, colleagues and their employers (Staton, 1990). The relationships that exist between people is defined and determined by the rules that they have put in place during communication.

The rules can be either implicit or explicit. Implicit rules are the rules that are suggested rather than stated directly. For example, well-organized seats suggest that people should sit down. This is an implicit rule. On the other hand, explicit rules are stated directly. (Murphy & Kraidy, 2003). In most cases, the explicit rules are put in writing making them abiding. For example, event organizers can write on the notice board ordering the attendants to take their seats. However, successful events must incorporate the two rules (Adams, 1970).


This study focuses on the use of implicit and explicit rules among people during events. It aims evaluating how people perceive, follow, or break implicit and explicit rules. In addition, it aims at scrutinizing the integration of the two rules to meet the desired level of effectiveness.

In this light, it needs the learner to attend an event and make accurate observations of people conduct and organization in line with the rule that have been put in place. As a result, the learner will make relevant conclusions regarding the behavior and activities carried out during the event. Moreover, it aims at determining how the two rules are enforced during the event. Consequently, the study helps in comparing the effectiveness and efficiency of the two sets of rules.

Event Description

This study will consider the event that was organized by the Blueprint Events. The event is referred to as The Season Event 2013. This event happened during the Easter Long Holiday in Vancouver at the PNE. The event started on Thursday the 28th of March to 31st of March. It started from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. This event is the third one since the launch of a similar event in the year 2010. In this light, the event takes place annually and accepts participants from all ages. In this case, it includes refreshments for all ages and beer for those participants who are past the age of 19. The events had various celebrities including Nicky Romero, Burns, Michael Woods and Calvin Harris.

Method of Observation

The method of observation that is used in this event is referred to as covert participant observation. This method incorporates two crucial concepts of observation. These include covert and participation concepts (Brown, 1988). The participant observation requires the observer to take part in the activities of the event and have an experience concerning the behavior and conduct of the attendants.

On the other hand, covert observation asserts that the status of the observer should be concealed and hidden to the other participants during the event (Klein, 1993). The covert participant observation does not require pre-requisite knowledge about the group. This makes it possible to analyze any event that the researcher desires.

However, it is exceedingly difficult to make observations while participating, talking and carrying out the activities. In addition, hiding the identity of the researcher is a considerable challenge. Therefore, it poses extreme need of observing with restraint helping to integrate the two concepts during observation. Although it is quite challenging, it gives the desirable and accurate result (Treweek & Linkogle, 2000). Consequently, it is most suitable choice for this study that is described in this paper.


I managed to arrive just before 9:30 p.m. I went through a security check where the females were inspected by female security guards while the males were inspected by the male guards. As a result, followed suit and I lined up on the male line up. The event was open to all ages that were willing to attend. Therefore, it was a mixture of children, youths and the aged people. After passing through the security check up, I waked to the concessions which ordered for a personal ID. I presented my ID, and they allowed me to pass.

This was carried out on both sides of the concessions. Then, I walked through an open area which had curtains. This open walk led me into the open dance floor which was extremely crowded and full. There were long lineups that were made to get alcohol and coolers. The drinks were not sold using plastic cups and bottles. In the dance floor, I observed two concession stands. Besides one of the concession stands, there was a t-shirt booth. In the dance floor, the front was much clouded while the middle and the back had been quite spacious.

Some people sold mineral water, Gatorade and vitamin water at the back and in the dance floor. Since the dance floor was full, the dj was stayed on and elevated platform which allowed all the people including the backbencher to see and hear him clearly. The dj was under tight security that was offered by the security guards. Although it was not allowed, some attendants kept on backing their girlfriends and take their pictures. Consequently, the security officers kept on flashing their flashlights towards them. I observed people wearing neon clothing, tutus and fishnets. In addition, some women had dressed in bra and short shorts.

The event was organized and coordinated in good order by the event organizers. When they changed the dj, the music would be paused, and their names appeared on the screen showing the current dj. Nicky Romero became hilarious by splashing champagne to the audience while Calvin Harris opened presentations with confetti. On the second level of the event, people sat on both side of the coliseum as they watched happily. On the contrary, the people at the dance hall danced vigorously and passionately. The events were scheduled to run up to 1 a.m. where the lights were put on, and people forced to leave as soon as possible.


Mainly, my role as the observer was taking note of every occurrence that took place. I aimed at noting and perceiving all changes that took place during the event. For example, I paid a lot of attention on the change of the dj. In this light, I compared the difference between the conduct of various djs who showed up (Priest, 2005). I monitored behavior and conduct of the attendants evaluating how they followed the rules that were set up. In addition, I was attentive on perceiving the implicit rules that people followed.

For example, lining up according to gender was a crucial implicit rule that I observed during the event. The guideline was not formally produced, but the participants followed it implicitly. Moreover, I had to take notes of all occurrences that took place in the course of the event. Therefore, I had to adopt and use the most appropriate method that would sustain the covert observation. Lastly, I had to participate in all the relevant events that were taking place. This helped me to disguise my observer status and ensure that I collect accurate and reliable information concerning implicit and explicit rules.

Taking note was the most challenging part of this study. I could not use a book to take note since it could reveal the observer status that had brought me to the event. Therefore, I adopted various methods that ensured that my fellow participants did not notice this. First, I used an audio recorder to collect all audio information that was available during the event. In this case, I kept the audio recorder held on my hands so as to record all information efficiently. I moved from the back, across the hall in a haphazard manner from the back to the dance floor.

This enabled the collection of much information. After the event, I listened to the recorded file and put the relevant information in writing. However, there was much noise that hindered clear listening. Secondly, I used my smartphone to take short notes of the eventualities and change of moments. Therefore, the participants thought that I was operating on the phone.

This worked efficiently suited the method of observation that I had adopted. However, I could not use the camera and the video recorder. This is because the two were banned in the event. In addition, using the two gadgets would send some suspicious messages to the other participants. This would result to failure of the study.

As a covert participant, I had various feelings that affected my study significantly. Surely, I did not feel free to participate in activities that did not have a passion for them. For example, I was challenged by the use of beer which I could not drink. Sitting around a group of youths who were drinking beer while I took refreshments was a challenge for them. I, also, had an unethical discomfort which made my efficiency and passion diminish. This is because I felt that I was invading the privacy of other people through pretext during the event. However, the method allowed me to collect natural and accurate information concerning peoples’ response to implicit and explicit rules of the event. Therefore, information is credible, valid and reliable for the analysis.

There were various problems that arose during the collection of information in the event. These problems revolved around the difficulty of taking notes. The use of the recorders was not sufficiently efficient owing to the noise and sound reverberation in the hall. This forced me to use the mobile phones to take short notes for analysis. However, the participants could push and destabilize me as they danced and moved. The use of cameras and videos were banned posing a crucial problem to the entire process. In addition, the feeling of invading peoples’ privacy affected my passion to observe resulting to potential inefficiency.


The event had both the implicit and explicit rules which were reconciled to ensure maximum order. However, the implicit rules were more than the explicit ones. These implicit rules were used to maintain collective order. For example, the checkups respected gender implicitly. Males followed the males’ queue while women followed the queue with the female Securicor. This rule was not given formally, but it was followed implicitly. When the participants arrived, they could follow the lines according to how they observed them.

In fact, it was extremely effective and raised minimal issues of lawbreakers. Another example of the implicit rules was the line-ups for alcohol. In this case, the participants followed the queue without defying and disrupting the others. This was an implicit instruction arising from the behavior of others. In addition, the sitting arrangement was followed implicitly. People sat at the benches that were provided on both sides of the dance hall. This was because of the appearance of the well-organized benches on both sides.

On the contrary, the explicit rules were used to maintain order during the event. Firstly, the use of cameras was not allowed owing to the flashlight that disrupted other participants in the hall. Secondly, conclusion of the event was done explicitly. In this case, the event was to end at 1 a.m. However, some participants defied and continued dancing with their girlfriends. As a result, the security officers intervened and forced them out of the hall. This was an explicit rule that had to be implemented to ensure order during the event.

The event had various subjects who carried out various activities during the events. First, the event had participants who had come from various divergent parts. They participated in the dance and kept the happy mood in the hall. They purchased various good to support the organizers financially. They were the most essential subject of the event. Secondly, the event had the security guards who kept order during the event. Two of them stayed at the gate checking people at the entry. This ensured that people did not carry harmful gadgets into the hall. As a result, all participants were secure ensuring comfort and smooth flow of the event.

Lastly, the djs facilitated the success of the event. In this case, Canadians are addicted to music and dancing. The djs helped in operating the machines and playing the song on the platform. The attendants would dance to their best.

Self-Reflexive Assessment

Before attending the event, I had various ideologies that affected my entire data collection. For example, I thought that such an informal event would not have stringent rules. Therefore, I had considered the use of cameras as a method of collecting information in this study. On the contrary, there was a stringent rule that opposed the use of camera. Therefore, I switched to using my phone for taking short notes that could help in the qualitative analysis. Also, I thought that attendants would not be punctual for the informal event. As a result, I arrived just before 9:30 p.m. for the checkup. However, I was shocked to see the hall crowded at that time.

I had various expectations before going to the event that formed my basis of this study. The most fundamental expectation revolved around the nature of attendants. I expected that the attendants would comprise of the youths. However, the attendants comprised of relatively old and the young people. For the observation, the methodology used was accurate and sufficiently efficient. However, I will consider the use of spy cameras to collect visual information that would be relevant to subsequent studies.


This study has managed to present a detailed presentation that incorporates the collection of data through covert participant method. In addition, it has presented the observations and made a relevant analysis (Bulmer, 1982). Therefore, it is an all-inclusive paper.

Works Cited

Adams, Alice Bee Kasakoff. Explicit and implicit marriage rules among the Gitksan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970. Print.

Brown, Celia. Resistance and renewal: surviving the Indian residential school. Vancouver, B.C., Canada: Tillacum Library, 1988. Print.

Bulmer, Martin. Social research ethics: an examination of the merits of covert participant observation. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1982. Print.

Klein, Alan M.. Little big men: bodybuilding subculture and gender construction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993. Print.

Murphy, Patrick, and Marwan Kraidy. Global media studies: ethnographic perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Priest, Susanna Hornig. Communication impact: designing research that matters. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Print.

Staton, Ann Q.. Communication and student socialization. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Pub. Corp., 1990. Print.

Treweek, Geraldine, and Stephanie Linkogle. Danger in the field: risk and ethics in social research. London: Routledge, 2000. Print.

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