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detached observation

Definition of Detached Observation

(noun) An approach to research that employs emotional detachment coupled with limited interaction and the creation of categories for classifying observations.

Example of Detached Observation

Detached Observation Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: de·tached ob·ser·va·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /di-tAcht ahb-suhr-vAY-shuhn/
  • British English – /di-tAcht ob-zuh-vAY-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /dɪˈtæʧt ˌɑbzərˈveɪʃən/
  • British English – /dɪˈtæʧt ˌɒbzə(ː)ˈveɪʃən/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: detached observations
  • Detached observation is contrasted to participant observation.
  • Detached observation is important to maintain objectivity.
  • A (noun) detached observer uses detached observation to research a social scene.

Additional Information

Related Terms


Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 5th ed. 2011. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Bruce, Steve, and Steven Yearley. 2006. The SAGE Dictionary of Sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Collins English Dictionary: Complete and Unabridged. 6th ed. 2003. Glasgow, Scotland: Collins.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Detached Observation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “detached observation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved September 30, 2020 (https://sociologydictionary.org/detached-observation/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

detached observation. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/detached-observation/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “detached observation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed September 30, 2020. https://sociologydictionary.org/detached-observation/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“detached observation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 30 Sep. 2020. <https://sociologydictionary.org/detached-observation/>.