Rick's suggestion that we go researching in "public" reminded
       me of this exercise that my students perform for my social
       psychology course. The most difficult part of this exercise
       is to be able to describe at a very low level of interpretation
       before another interpretation is made. Try this yourself and
       see what difficulties you have with it.

                                               Regards, Chuck


                            "What are they Doing?"

     Go to a restaurant (a "food hall" in a nearby Mall or Russell
     House Cafeteria if you have no interest in purchasing a meal) and
     take notes on the activities of ONE (just one) set of persons
     nearby you. Notice the seating arrangements, what they are doing
     with their hands, when, how and in what ways they look at each
     other, their general posture and over-all appearance. Listen to
     them talk but do not eavesdrop to the extent that you record what
     they are saying to each other.

     Write down as many observations that you can but stop recording
     after you have three pages of them.

     With these three pages of observations, write three different
     interpretations (or stories or versions) of what the people that
     you observed are doing with one another. Match each of your
     interpretations with your detailed observations and turn them in
     as part of your paper.

     These different interpretations or stories or versions should make
     you aware of how one (YOU) imputes meaning to actions in everyday
     life. Since you will probably be able to support all three
     interpretations with your observations, it will help you
     appreciate the nature of social phenomena.