Ethical Challenges and Conundrums - Examples
What sorts of ethical challenges do anthropologists face? As we have seen, there is a general reluctance in ethical and professional codes to be prescriptive or rigid when it comes to how things should be done. To fill what might otherwise be a pedagogical hole, a large body of case material is now becoming available. These vignettes typically present ethical challenges and conundrums that researchers have encountered in the field and present the solutions that they arrived at (or perhaps failed to arrive at!). They are building up into a body of case material, which varies considerably in content but often provides identifiable patterns when it comes to power relations, positionality and potential harms and how these might be avoided. In addition to the case studies we have assembled here, you may find these useful.
Useful case studies can be found in the following places:
- The ASA website has a section devoted to ethical dilemmas in professional practice.
- The American Anthropological Association as part of its Ethics Handbook has a section entitled ‘Cases and Solutions’ (chapter 3). The case studies presented here are particularly useful in that they are accompanied by commentaries from other anthropologists.
- The Economic and Social Research Council as part of its ethics capacity building efforts has put together a collection of case studies. Although these are taken from a wide range of disciplines what is helpful is that they are grouped under themes and issues rather than methods. Themes covered include: co-production, vulnerable groups, trust, confidentiality and consent, international research and data.