This is a sociological research that was carried out in a public park on the date of 13th May, 2010, from 8:00 AM till 6:00 PM. The qualitative methodology was used to conduct this research; the data I obtained was gained through the use of the method of participant observation and interaction with the site. The purpose of this research was the acquiring of knowledge on the social interactions in public, the social facilities available in the public and the technological facilities in the society and how they affect the human interactions. The interactions of the persons in the society were based on the observation of their behavior and my own interaction with the various people I encountered in the park.
The reason I choose the park for my social research is because I felt it represented the best setup for a diverse social scene. I felt that by using the park I will be able to interact with more people from all walks of life, while there are many facilities in the society that would have provided for this, it is only in the park I felt people would have been in a better position to provide the information I needed. The park set provides a relaxing opportunity for people in the city to rest and enjoy a relaxing moment. While I may have met many more at the train station or the bus stop, restaurants and shopping malls. These would not have been ideal set ups as most people in these facilities are on a mission or a hurry to do their duties, at the same time eating paces are meant to provide private places to enjoy a quite meal
The park provides shades in form of trees and gazebos, under these trees and also all over the park, there are park benches placed strategically. They are used by people to sit on, as they rest or by others to lie on. This park's grounds are well maintained as it has well kept lawns and bushes and shrubs, the park also has a little forested area, where the trees and shrubs are more concentrated. The park has facilities like washrooms that are cleaned by the local council; there are water fountains and ponds where one can see birds likes ducks and doves as they swim in the water and drink. The park services have provided drinking water fountains for humans. The park also has litter bins and cans situated at every corner, or near a bench or a commercial stand to provide disposal services. The park has a scenic view of the near by buildings roads and bridges.
The park is serviced form the subway, and roads that surround it, it has several bus parks where one can easily catch the bus in and out of the park. The park is home to several critters like the ducks, doves and several species of birds; it has squirrels and rodents alike.
The council has provided the park with social amenities like washrooms, drinking water, garbage disposal and power for street lighting. The park has these street lights situated at every strategic point though some of them are not working but most corners are not blind. The park has beautiful path ways that lead through and out of the park; there are paved paths that are used for skating by skaters and cyclists. Little bridges that cross over the ponds, water ways and over passes in the park provide good viewing of the sites. There are rockeries with flowers and bushes that give little rocky paths for walking on. The park also enjoys the benefits of telephone booths that are seen strewn all over the park. The park has a play centre with sand boxes for the children; this center has swings and slides. Next to this is a person who is doing face painting to children or anyone interested. The park has also been provided for security, they was a patrol of police either on foot or by car through the park, there is a private security firm hired by the city council to help in the security of the park, this is important as various muggings and crimes have been reported in the park.
This park also enjoys the services of a few businesses that are through out the park, these are both formal and informal. The formal businesses are those with stands and are licensed to operate in the park. There are hotdog stands, several photo shops, pizza joint, and newspaper stand. There is a coffee stand that also offers other beverages apart form coffee, from herbal teas to cappuccino. There is a juice stand the offers, all kinds of juices from fresh to artificial juices, and squashes. Mango, orange, passion, apple, and mixed fruit cocktails, they also offer fruits for those who feel like nibbling. The doughnut stand offers all kinds of daughters, with chocolate frosting, toppings, vanilla icing; they also have cakes and cookies. There is a mobile kitchen that offers a variety of foods, I found out from the owner they have been operating for three years I the park, cooking simple meals like fish and chips and grilled chicken, with some burgers and side dishes. All stands that are operating in the park have licenses to do so, they have licenses form the city health department to operate in the park and serve food stuff. Just across the street form the park is a whole line of restaurants, for those who may feel that the park delicacies are not enough they can cross over to them. There are candy and sweet stands, balloon stands and a photo booth.
There are a number of informal businesses, these are like the face painters, the sketch artist, who I had a chance to draw a sketch for me. There is a shoe shiner and cobbler combined, some of these people have been in the park for so many years they are permanent figures. There is a blind man who has been there for years playing the accordion; a guitar player sometimes accompanies him. The owners of these stands have been here for years operating their businesses some have workers especially the busy mobile kitchen where they serve a large number of customers over the lunch hour. Most stands have a maximum of one help for those who need an extra hand, the help is usual not permanent as they operate on an hourly basis depending on the rush hour time, or the season. The business owners were able to give me information on the kind of customers they have. This was further proved by my observation on the kind of people who visited these establishments.
From my observation there are a wide variety of customers at these stands, there are regular customers who come to the park often either for reissue or for a break, these individuals are from the neighboring businesses or office blocks close to the park. Then there are those that were there for their leisurely activities and in the process had a snack at these stands. It was noted that most stand owners were friendly and talkative; they were mostly comprised of people from a minority communities. The kinds of foods they offered were mostly from their communities.
The activities observed in the park were many and diverse, most people seemed to be enjoying a stroll through the park, either they were on their way to another part of the city and used it as a short cut, or were on their way home or to work, the pace was moderate and unhurried. There were a good number who were cycling through the park another that jogged along the jogging paths and cycling paths. There are ladies and couples with their children, there are those with their small children in strollers, or are sited with them on mats on the lawns. There are a number of people seated on the grass, either reading, talking to their companions or are enjoying a nap or snack. There are those who opted to sit on the benches while there others lying on them. I saw on this day to groups of performances, there were a small choir and five little girls singing their hearts out. Those alone playing their musical instruments or performing acts or stunts for a small audience were also present. There were a number of elderly people who were either in pairs or alone seated watching the activities around. I happened to sit on a bench that happened to be a homeless person's home, who chased me away. There were others playing sports, from fetch for dogs, to football, catch or a simple toss of the ball. Several walked by with their dogs on leaches. The most distinct group in noticed was the homeless, idlers and street thugs. These I observed because of the activities they were doing, the homeless and the idler are easy to point out at they were there from the crack of dawn to dusk, they busied around, either sleeping on the benches, the grass or were generally seen hanging out where there was a gathering of people to watch what was going on. The street thug on the other hand seemed restless, they were constantly on the move, or stood at one corner of the park, they harassed passers by for no reason but to cause chaos and were seen once mugging a lady. The group that had the most power was the street thugs as they used terror to control people, most people seemed to identify them by their dressing and bodily behavior and avoided them. Oddly enough there was some kind of hands off relationship between them and the businesses men; maybe it is the number of years of contact that made them respect each other.
The park had street signs and posters; there were those for not littering, no smoking sign, those showing directions, advertisement boards, and some even telling people not to trespass. These were for giving rules for the park, they taught the value of social ethics as the images reminded one on what not to do to others. The ark was endowed by security cameras, electronic billboards; the billboards were used for advertisements and display of news and events. The security cameras on the other hand seemed to provide assurance to park users but there were those who avoided them, the street thugs stood on corners that seemed to be blind spots, the mood that seemed to have been evoked by this park was that of tranquility, it was a source of entertainment to many, a get away experience form the bustle of the streets and city. This helped me to understand the social structure in our community, the different social classes and the social interactions of individuals in public. This further explains the behavior of human beings in a public set up and how they react to others and their surroundings. This helped in the identification of the social issues that are present from homelessness, poverty, juvenile cases and joblessness.