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NCJ Number: 67727 Find in a Library
Title: PARADOXES OF 'CONSENT' TO THE PRACTICE OF FIELDWORK
Journal: SOCIAL PROBLEMS  Volume:27  Issue:3  Dated:(FEBRUARY 1980)  Pages:272-283
Author(s): M L WAX
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 12
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: IN ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF THE ETHICS OF 'CONSENT' IN SOCIAL FIELDWORK, THIS ESSAY DESCRIBES THE COMPLEXITIES OF ESTABLISHING GOOD RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN FIELDWORKERS AND HOSTS AS THE CRUCIAL ELEMENT OF 'CONSENT.'
Abstract: THE PROCESS OF FIELD WORK REQUIRES THAT FIELDWORKERS STRIVE TO SITUATE THEMSELVES PHYSICALLY AND SOCIALLY CLOSE TO THEIR HOSTS SO THAT THEY CAN OBSERVE THEM AND PARTICIPATE IN THEIR ACTIVITIES. THE FINDINGS FROM SUCCESSFUL FIELDWORK ARE LISTED: UNDERSTANDING HOW THE HOSTS CONCEPTUALIZE PHENOMENA, PERCEIVING FAMILIAR PATTERNS OF SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS, AND DRAWING COMPARISONS AMONG DIFFERENT PEOPLES. ACHIEVING THESE GOALS IS DEPENDENT UPON DELICATE BALANCES IN RELATIONSHIPS. THE COMPLEXITY OF THE ISSUE OF CONSENT IS A NEGOTIATED AND LENGTHY PROCESS BETWEEN HOSTS AND RESEARCHERS. THE CONVENTIONAL 'CONSENT FORM' IS IRRELEVANT SINCE MANY NONLITERATE OR POORLY LITERATE HOSTS ARE UNACCUSTOMED TO THE ARGOT OF SUCH FORMS AND BECAUSE THE FIELDWORK PROCESS OFTEN INVOLVES CHANGE BOTH IN THE CONCEPTUALIZATIONS OF PROJECTS AND IN THE ROLE OF THE WORKERS. PROBLEMS OF MORAL JUDGMENT ARE INVOLVED IN THE ANTAGONISM OF SOME RESEARCHERS TOWARD HOST CUSTOMS, IN THE COMMITMENT OF GROUPS BY FACTIONS WITHIN HIERARCHICAL SOCIETIES, AND IN THE CONTROL OF ACCESS TO RESEARCH BY THIRD PARTIES ('GATEKEEPERS'). THE STUDY CONCLUDES THAT RAPPORT BETWEEN FIELDWORKERS AND THEIR HOST IS THE PRIMARY REQUIREMENT FOR SUCCES. THIS RELATIONSHIP IS JOINTLY CREATED, EMERGENT, AND NOT SUBJECT TO PRIOR PLANNING. CONSENT, THEREFORE, IS NOT CONTRACTUAL, BUT DEVELOPMENTAL AND BROAD IN SCOPE. THE ETIQUETTE OF CONSENT INCLUDES PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THE INFORMANTS AND PRESENTING THE RESEARCHERS TO THE COMMUNITY WITHOUT DECEPTION. THE MATTER OF CONSCIENCE IS INVOLVED. REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (MFE)
Index Term(s): Evaluation; Human research subject protection; Research methods; Techniques
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67727

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