I’ve been writing a bit about critical incident techniques this week and had a small thought about the use of video for observations. In their review of the technique, Butterfield et al (2005) describe how researchers have moved away from Flanagan’s (1954) emphasis on observation towards a model of participant reporting and interviews. They speculate that this may be because observation is ‘very labour intensive and therefore expensive to gather data in this way’ (pp 480-481). Heath, Hindmarsh & Luff (2010), however, describe digital video as a tool that offers a ‘cheap and reliable technology that enables us to record naturally occurring activities as they arise in ordinary habitats, such as the home, the workplace or the classroom. These records can be subject to detailed scrutiny. They can be repeatedly analysed and they enable access to the fine details of conduct and interaction that are unavailable to more traditional social science methods’ ( p 2). The use of digital video as a daat collection tool may, therefore, allow Flanagan’s emphasis on observation in critical incident analysis to to remerge.
Butterfield, L.,D., Borgen, W.A., Amundson, N., E., Maglio. A-S. T. (2005) Fifty Years of the critical incident technique: 1954-2004 and beyond. Qualitative Research 5(4):475-497
Flanagan, J.C. (1954) The Critical Incident Technique. Psychological Bulletin, 51(4): 327-358
Heath, C., Hindmarsh, J., Luff, P. 2010 Video in Qualitative Research: analysing social interacton in everyday life. Sage. London