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A Naturalistic Inquiry into Buyer and Seller Behavior at a S

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Michelle Tan

on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of A Naturalistic Inquiry into Buyer and Seller Behavior at a S

- Sampling -
A Naturalistic Inquiry into Buyer and Seller Behavior at a Swap Meet.
- Belk, Sherry Jr. and Wallendorf -
- Aim -
understand and develop an ethnography of a swap meet
, and to serve as a pilot study for a more extensive study.
To provide a
of the
specific nature of buying, selling and social interaction
of a swap meet

- Reasons for growth of swap meets -
A form of
buyer and seller exchange
Caters to lower class (King, 1981.)
Contrasts to crafts markets, charity bazaars, antique shows and modern renaissance fairs.
1) Taxes aren’t always paid and income isn’t always reported.
1) Provides one of the culture’s few structures for lateral cycling of used goods. However, the recent increase in lateral cycling also means that it replaces the downward socioeconomic movement of goods found in charity donations with exchanges that occur primarily within a social class.

2) Response to declining purchasing power by the lower and middle class.
2) Sellers prefer the freedom, individualism and easy entrepreneurship of the swap meet compared to the corporate 9 to 5 employment.
1) The perception of bargains. However, treasure and bargain hunting must be strong buyer attractions because used goods and swap meet settings are associated with higher perceived risk.
2) The surprise of a treasure hunt, finding things you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.

Socializing and a sense of community which serve as attractions for both buyers and sellers.
3) Swap meets facilitate exchange between buyers and sellers who need to acquire or dispose of goods because of role transitions, changes in family life cycles or geographic movements.
- Society -
- Buyer -
- Seller -
- Data collection -
Red Mesa Swap Meet.
Four days.

" - a distanced perspective
The team had to produce a thorough description of the activity occurring at the site from its own perspective.
" - a documentary, more empathetic perspective
From the perspective of participants engaged in that activity.
- Data recording -
Field notes and journal materials

Mechanical recordings
Audio tapes
- Data recording -
Field notes
Naturalistic inquiry data are recorded in field notes by the researcher.
Attempts to capture and represent accurate and fine details of the phenomena
- Data recording -
Preliminary visit
10 pages of field notes, 12 photographs.

Data collection (four days)
87 pages of field notes, 14 pages of journal notes, 82 black and white photographs, 24 color slides and 2 hours of video taped interviews.

Member check/ re-interview
10 additional pages of field notes and 12 additional black and white photographs from a later visit.
Self-disclosure in field materials is critical in naturalistic inquiry.
Disclosure is facilitated by the journal, where feedback from members of the research team is an important source of information on their own professional style.
At a minimum, disclosure should include the description of the conditions which the data was collected.
Naturalistic inquiry research also requires lots of training and learning - videography, ethnographic fieldwork, participant observation, group depth interview and photography.
- Research team -
Purposive sampling design
- each sample unit is on the basis of the inquirer’s experience with previously sampled units.
Variety and contrast
110 informants directly interviewed.
Doesn’t require big samples to be better because depth of the understanding can be sacrificed for quantity.
- Autodriving -
Showing people photographs and video images of themselves as stimuli in interviewing or reinterviewing.
Can see the informant’s reactions to previous states.
- Memoing -
Memoing involves oral or written briefings of other team members regarding their emerging interpretations of data or sense of project progress.
Sharing journals
Close contact among team members during the field work stage.
Evening debriefing where they looked over the day’s filming.
- Data analysis -
Constant comparative method - new data is constantly compared to prior interpretations

Analysis during the fieldwork:
Coding devices – reflective and marginal remarks
Pattern coding
Periodic site analysis meetings where researchers would conduct an internal audit of progress to date.

Analysis after the fieldwork:
Pattern and thematic notation
Clustering of observations into conceptual groupings
Forging of metaphors
Triangulation of interpretations among team members

Involves providing all or a portion of a final report to people who have served as part of the sample.
Check on the viability of the interpretations.
Two member checks, buyer and seller(s)
Confirms the researcher’s earlier impressions.
- Member checks -
- Auditors -
Criticize the project adequacy
of the data for drawing conclusions.

Auditing also has its problems but careful use of auditing techniques could prevent the publication of works that, in the final analysis, are not based on careful field methods and data collection.
- The site -
Red Mesa Swap Meet
450,000 people in the community
Predominantly white with a large number of Mexican Americans.
Price: $8.00 (regular) and $9.00 (premium)
620 regular selling spaces and 290 are monthly rentals.
First come first serve policy.
Additional 200 'overflow' spaces.

- Emergent themes -
- Freedom vs. rules -
Free from constraints of jobs, stores, offices, income taxes and the formal retailing rules of behavior.
Some vendors also wear sidearms or knives
Real guns, bows and self-defense equipment were sold by several vendors too.

Management of the swap meet have enforced formal rules for:
Safeguarding profits
Keeping the meet attractive for shoppers

Several violations during their four days of fieldwork
‘Theives market’,

- Boundaries vs. transitions -
Degree and regularity of swap meet participation.
Full-time vendors
Permanent space
New rather than used goods
Other (amateur) vendors
Personal inventory
Used goods
Lacked the time, money or commitment
First timer/ One-time sellers
Overflow area
Easier to bargain
- Boundaries vs. transitions -
People boundaries by race/gender were significant.
Distinction between swap meet selling and ‘going retail’.
Arts vs. crafts.
Spatial features of the swap meet
Location of swap meet - outskirts of town.
Store locations within the swapmeet.
Traffic and season
Liminal characteristics/ between categories.
Role of fluidity.
- Competition -
Fighting for the stalls in the non-reserved spaces
Personal selling
Secrecy of source of supply
- Cooperation -
Market surveillance
Gossip. Eg: Research team, Korean- Americans, illegal immigrants, 'Ho Chi Minh Village’
'One big happy family'
Family tradition
- Sacred vs. profane -
Sacred resources - those with special meaning that have been a part of your life.

The impact of selling personal used goods rather than keeping them sacred by giving them to others or donating means that these goods are more likely to stay within the same social class too, rather than passing them to a lower, more needy social class.
- Critiques -
Naturally occurring context.
Better understanding of consumer behavior phenomena
Greater access to consumers as they become interested and involved in multiple phases of the research process
Findings that explicitly take into account the complexity of people's lives and experiences, rather than attempting to isolate elements of those experiences "holding everything else constant"
Greater use of multiple methods of data collection and data analysis within one project
- Critiques -
Greater time is required for data collection
The presence of a team of researchers is essential
The themes discussed were generated more than tested and isn’t a 100% accurate representation of how the swap meet works.
Greater sensitivity is needed in obtaining informed consent and in safeguarding informant anonymity.
Culture of different swap meets may be different.
- Data -
1) Literature
2) Methodology
3) Themes
4) Critiques/ Questions
What does
'Naturalistic Inquiry'
Naturalistic inquiry
is an approach to understanding the social world in which the researcher observes, describes, and interprets the experiences and actions of specific people and groups in societal and cultural context.
- Prior Research -
Journal notes
Provide a record of personal interpretations and biases, emotional and attitudinal dispositions and individual motives
Useful in interpreting the field notes.

- Questions -
How can the use of mechanical recordings (photographs, audio, video) affect their data?

How is the methodology used better or worse than a survey?

Are there any other ways in which they could improve their methodology and/or validate their themes?
Full transcript