Ethical Challenges in Participant Observation: A Reflection on Ethnographic Fieldwork

Abstract

In this essay I reflect on the ethical challenges of ethnographic fieldwork I personally experienced in a female gambling study. By assuming a covert research role, I was able to observe natural occurrences of female gambling activities but unable to make peace with disturbing feelings of my research concealment. By making my study overt, I was able to fulfill ethical obligations as a researcher but unable to get female gamblers to speak their minds. I responded to such ethical dilemmas by adjusting the level of involvement, participating in female gambling culture as an insider and observing it as an outsider. This fieldwork suggests that the ethics of participant observation should be addressed in relation to the sensitivity of the research topic, the vulnerability of the researched individuals, and the plasticity of field membership roles

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Li2008EthicalCI, title={Ethical Challenges in Participant Observation: A Reflection on Ethnographic Fieldwork}, author={Jun Li}, year={2008} }