Monday, January 10, 2011

Spatulate-leaved sundew: Social science research, Ethics, Relations between the inquirer and the communities that are studied

Harbin ethnography:

... As ethnographer, I'll engage new and different methodologies will of these processes, some of which will build on Tom Boellstorff's experiences in his ethnography of Second Life (2008:79).


Social science research entails specific kinds of power relations between the inquirer and the communities that are studied (Boellstorff 2008:79). Anthropological research has developed approaches to ethics of research, unique to its discipline. While on-the-ground, anthropological field work involves approaches to research ethics, virtual field work adds new and different ethical exigencies by which the researcher knows of, and protects, her interviewees and the sociocultural processes and people she studies. In bringing this actual / virtual Harbin ethnography into conversation with Tom Boellstorff's “Coming of Age of Second Life,” I also engage and develop the ethical considerations that Boellstorff develops, and which are unique to anthropological research in virtual worlds. In so doing, I articulate a kind of comparative, pragmatic ethics of actual and virtual Harbin field work. ...

( - January 10, 2011)

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