By Podesva R.J., Sharma D. (eds.)

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Cameron et al. (1992) distinguish three kinds of ethical traditions based in distinct research relations which, in turn, emerge from different epistemological traditions. I will not go into these three kinds here because the issues behind them are more complex than a quick overview can do justice to. But underlying the distinctions are three elements: 1. 2. 3. The researcher’s ownership and control of the research ideas, hypotheses, procedures, results and interpretation The extent to which the researched are disinterested subjects of the researcher’s activity The responsibility of the researcher to seek and use research knowledge for the benefit of the researched.

That said, anyone who has worked with children knows that they trust too easily, and the fact that after the first day nobody ever made that gesture in 3 years is an indication that children are not thinking about the potential consequences of allowing an ethnographer in their midst. In such cases, the ethnographer must take on the responsibility of picking and choosing what to record, and what to publish. Ethnographic research raises a variety of questions and dilemmas, but it also provides continuous opportunities for working out common understandings.

Fieldworkers must know from the start how they will create an unambiguous role, and how they will deal with unexpected problems if they should arise. Outside of the fieldworker’s culture, there are many possible sources of misunderstanding about the fieldworker’s nature, resources, capabilities, and responsibilities. Only some of these can be predicted, and it is up to the researcher to recognize at all times the possibilities for misunderstanding. The researcher working with groups of children is likely to witness meanness, bullying, acts of racism.

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Research Methods in Linguistics by Podesva R.J., Sharma D. (eds.)
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