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The ethical challenges of field research: A personal narrative

Jagriti Gangopadhyay

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2019.081


Abstract

One of the biggest components of the disciplines, Sociology and Social Anthropology is fieldwork. Despite the significance of fieldwork as a method, there is limited scholarship on the myriad experiences of the fieldworker. This commentary emphasises the need to document field narratives of researchers, while using the personal field experience of the author as a prototype. The author encountered these experiences in 2016 as part of an independent and self-funded study (Understanding aging in old age homes of Delhi, India) that she had conducted in Delhi post the submission of her PhD thesis titled: Three essays in aging: Social capital, family dynamics and transnational arrangements. The said thesis was completed at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, (pp: 1-169) from the year 2013-2018. In particular, the commentary sheds light on the ethical challenges faced during fieldwork. Specifically, this commentary, against the backdrop of the author’s encounters in an old age home, analyses the importance of primary themes such as the subjective-objective approach, passionate detachment, rapport building, critical reflexivity and the insider-outsider perspective while conducting fieldwork.

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