The ethnography of ‘particularly sensitive’ activities: How ‘social expectations of ethnography’ may reduce sociological and anthropological scope - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Ethnography Year : 2013

The ethnography of ‘particularly sensitive’ activities: How ‘social expectations of ethnography’ may reduce sociological and anthropological scope

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Abstract

When ethnographers explore ‘particularly sensitive’ social activities, raising complex political, legal and ethical stakes, they sometimes work in contexts in which certain ethnographic descriptions are ‘particularly expected’. Ethnographers may then be given (pleasant) recognition for their work producing descriptions of actual social activities. But is there not a trap here? This trap is to reduce the scope of their research to the production of such descriptions even if at the beginning of their work they defined these descriptions as simple ‘preliminary questions’ and wanted to invest their principal work in ‘core questions’ – for instance about the relationships between individuals and activities and the social roots of these relationships. This article revisits research concerning life-or-death decisions and ‘ethics in action’ in neonatal intensive care, in order to pinpoint how social expectations of descriptions may reduce the very definition of the sociological and anthropological perspective.
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Dates and versions

hal-03953200 , version 1 (23-01-2023)

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Anne Paillet. The ethnography of ‘particularly sensitive’ activities: How ‘social expectations of ethnography’ may reduce sociological and anthropological scope. Ethnography, 2013, 14 (1), pp.126-142. ⟨10.1177/1466138111435449⟩. ⟨hal-03953200⟩
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