A Critique on the Article Get ‘Ready to Duck: Bouncers and the Realities of Ethnographic Research on Violent Groups
I will critique an article that deals with violence in a job role. Bouncers have a reputation for violence and the following article investigates the bouncer’s role using qualitative research. The method used is covert ethnography. I will examine this article in terms of the methodological approaches, size of the sample, and the moral and ethical problems with the method used; the use of deceit; the possibility of using violence whilst working on the door and views on ethical problems. I will investigate the strengths of the article and identify the limitations of the article.
The article ‘Get Ready to Duck: Bouncers and the Realities of Ethnographic Research on Violent Groups’ (Winlow et al., 2001) researches bouncers as a ‘commercial device’ (Winlow et al., 2001, pg536), getting paid to commit violence and prevent violence occurring. It investigates this job to uncover the working culture of bouncers and how violence and their physical appearance are expressed. The theoretical position that underpins the methodological approach, Interpretivism, can be seen in this study meaning that, ‘the objective nature of the world is seen in a subjective or personal light by the individual observer.’ (Marcus and Ducklin, 1998, pg 27). The researcher identifies with the participants view of the culture he is associated with, to understand why bouncers commit violence they are paid to act out. Covert ethnography was applied to view the subculture in an observational, personal light. The ethnographer had previous experience working as a bouncer. He knew what was expected, how to behave and had the physical attributes which made the research possible. The ethnographer’s qualities gave strength to the research. The research previously undertaken by Hobbs (1995) has shown that this employment was ‘grounded in violence’ (Winlow et al., 2001, pg536). The researchers wanted to understand this culture from the observations and viewpoints of the bouncers themselves, ‘we wished to explore the culture of a group which was becoming increasingly demonized in both the media and common liberal discourse and was therefore ‘topical’ in both common sense and academic terms’ (Lofland, 1976 in Winlow et al., 2001 pg 537).
The researcher was able to ‘experience’ the working life of bouncers, ‘much ethnography is orientated to ‘naturalism’, with observation informed by a stance of appreciation, of trying to see things from the member’s perspective’ (Gilbert, 2008, pg277). Using the anthropological method of investigating humanity, he used a naturalistic method so they did not cause disruption to the natural setting and the researcher could participate in their natural setting. Adler (1985) states that