... And participant observation will continue to be a foundational ethnographic practice, informing all of these new approaches.
During my on-the-ground field work, I conducted around 20 formal, recorded interviews, and innumerable informal conversations. This involved setting up a meeting time, asking my Harbin, resident friend before we began if I could record the conversation on my computer, that I would change their names and identity, if I used the interviews. One informant asked explicitly that I ask him for permission before I cited him anonymously, which I said I would. I often recorded this asking of permission. I chose most interviewees due to participant observation, and often because they were the longest-term Harbin residents. I had also asked a very long-term M.D. - 'managing director' – for permission to write this ethnography in around 2007?. Having worked at Harbin Hot Springs as a resident for about 4 ½ months from January to June, 2005, with writing an anthropology about Harbin in mind, my belonging to the Harbin community, and friendships there, and appreciation for Harbin, gave me insight into great possible interviewees for an ethnographic interpretation of Harbin, emerging from the early 1970s, with a virtual Harbin aspect. Such a selective approach to interviewing in the context of Harbin Hot Springs has great merit, in contrast to statistical approaches to sampling, for example, which might become very diffuse and vacuous vis-a-vis what's fascinating socioculturally about Harbin. Like actual Harbin, virtual Harbin has, and will, attract a self-selected group of virtual Harbinites, from which further interviews will emerge.
Interviews complement and focus participant observation of sociocultural processes. ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2011/01/galapagos-finch-on-ground-field-work-at.html - January 4, 2011)