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TOPIC: Does the researcher have a topic?
Yes, Whyte, the researcher in this study, has a topic. The Topic is immigrant neighborhoods in America. In the 1930s, William Foote Whyte, a sociologist from Harvard, embedded himself in a lower class neighborhood in Boston to learn more about the beliefs and practices of the Italian Americans living there. He is studying first and second generation Italian immigrants who all live in the same neighborhood of “Cornerville.”
PROBLEM Is there a problem (something about which the researcher wants to know more)?
Yes, there is a problem. As a researcher, Whyte wants to know if he can gain information about the people he is studying as an observer? The men and women he observes in the neighborhood do not know he is a sociologist from Harvard. When asked, he tells them he is writing a book. However, Whyte purposely keeps his reason for being in the neighborhood a mystery. At the heart, he wants to know if as an outsider what are the limits of his immersion into a different sociological group and can he as a researcher genuinely learn about their behaviors....
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