book presents a vivid description of the solutions that researchers have
discovered for ethical dilemmas that pose themselves at studying disadvantaged,
vulnerable and victimized populations. Ethical codes prescribe that the scholar
should in all circumstances avoid potential harm, that informed consent is
necessary and that the limits of confidentiality should always be respected.
However, in the practice of research among women involved in prostitution,
illegal immigrant workers, enslaved children, people who sell their organs and
all the traffickers thereof, the ethical rules cannot always be followed. This
book shows that there is a surprising variety of arguable possibilities in
dealing with ethical dilemmas in the field. Authors reflect on concrete
experiences from their own fieldwork in a wide variety of settings such as the
USA, Singapore, Kosovo and The Netherlands. Some choose to work on the basis of
conscientious partiality, others negotiate the rules with their informants and
still others purposely break the rules in order to disclose and damage the
exploiters. Researchers may find themselves in a vulnerable position. Their
experiences, as presented in this volume, will help field workers, university administrators, representatives
of vulnerable groups, philosophers of ethics and most of all students to go
into the field well-prepared.
is a book that every researcher planning to do fieldwork in the difficult field
of hidden, illicit and victimized people should read in advance.
Frank Bovenkerk, Professor (Emeritus), Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law
and Criminology, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands
allows a peek in the kitchen of empirical fieldwork, going into not only “best
practices,” but mistakes made, in a frank, courageous and honest way.
Dr. Brenda C. Oude Breuil, Willem Pompe Institute for
Criminal Law and Criminology, Universiteit Utrecht, The Netherlands