Participant-Observation and the Development of Urban Neighborhood Policy

by Robert K. Yin

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As a result of the urban riots, residential change, and continued problems in the delivery of municipal services, urban neighborhoods have become of increasing concern to the municipal policymaker. Yet the policymaker often has too little information at his disposal for making intelligent choices, especially in distinguishing among the needs of different neighborhoods. The present study examines the modifications needed and the problems encountered in applying a traditional social science method, participant-observation, to the study of urban neighborhoods. Such use of participant-observation can serve as a valuable resource, and provide both qualitative and quantitative information about the neighborhood.

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