One disadvantage of participant observation is it can involve a certain amount of danger. Being in a club by myself observing what is going on is likely to attract sum negative attention. Another disadvantage is that it could also be costly, paying into clubs etc. It can also be time consuming. I cannot expect to gather reliable information from one weekend at a nightclub. I would need to go several times for it to be reliable as the more times I observe the more likely someone could go back and get similar results.
I cannot expect either to gather valid information from a nightclub. For me to say that my findings are true I will have to check and re-check what I am seeing. It would not be safe to generalise my findings with the rest of the population. I am only observing two nightclubs in the town I live. These may not be typical of bigger dance clubs and the social meanings people attach here may be different from elsewhere. There may be ethical issues for observing the clubbers.
It may be wrong to observe the people without their awareness or their say that it is ok to do so. One problem with unstructured interviews is that there may be interviewer bias. This is unavoidable. I pay people to take part in my interviews. This could cause them to tell me things I want to hear as to get some money off me. My social characteristics of a non-clubbing type person may also affect what they tell me. They could not trust me and so won’t tell me personal information.
They may not even like me and could tell me false information. This will affect the validity of the research, as I will not be getting true information from the respondent. A disadvantage of questionnaires is that there is usually a low response rate. I have however introduced a cash prize to win for doing the questionnaire, however this could prove to be expensive, especially if hardly anyone returns the questionnaires back to me. This would also affect the representativeness of the research.
With a low response rate it would be hard to get a good mix of people. The answers done by the students may be incomplete or false. This will affect the validity of my research as the students could be answering the questionnaire mainly for the prize and would not care about filling in a questionnaire properly. The problem with my sample is that in the nightclub I cannot be sure I will get a representative mix of people. I cannot choose who attends the club so there is no possibility of me changing that.
I choose the D. J’s from each of the club. The sample of D. J’s is likely to be all male, as a woman D. J is uncommon, and I cannot produce a representative sample from just two clubs. To overcome this I would have to increase my sample of clubs. I cannot also be aware of how good of an ethnic mix my questionnaires would go to in the students union of a near by university. My sample size is unsure as I cannot be aware of how many returns I get or how many get given out.