Social scientists face ethical dilemmas in all areas, they must decide whether gathering reliable data is more important than their own values.
Anthropologists are expected to understand various cultures, they are also expected to avoid interfering in community affairs-this can be tough Ex. The Chagnon Case study- Chagnon inoculated the Yanomami society in order to strengthen his research Ex. Ken Pryce studied West Indian communities in church, he was asked to be baptized. Reasons not to: dishonest, culturally insensitive Reasons to: get him closer with informants, he will become a participant observer
Pryce did get baptized and the other members of the community opened up to him. His research benefited from the decision. Where should anthropologists draw the line on what they should do to fit in?
Psychologists conduct experiments where ethical concerns are raised as well. Ex. Scientists hypothesized that anxiety delays onset and reduces urination flow. Experimenters remained at adjacent urinals. Was this experiment an invasion of privacy?
Similarly sociologists also face ethical issues when creating surveys and utilizing questionnaires, they need to ensure that participants are anonymous and that the researcher keeps an emotional distance from the respondent.
Activity: Round group discussion Let’s assemble in a circle. We are going to imagine that we are cultural anthropologists doing participant observation. What’s your ethical response to the following situations? This is great practise for the culminating task! You are going to be assessed so please participate!
An informant tells a racist joke. The rest of the group laughs, Do you?
Every Friday night your informants get drunk to the point where they throw. What do you do?
Your informants believe that most police officers are corrupt. You don’t. They ask what you think, what do you say?
Colin Turnbull participant-observed the Ik people of Uganda. The group faced drought and famine and as a result left behind the older, weaker members of the community to save resources. Those that wanted to help the dying were mocked. What would you if you were Turnbull? Help the dying and risk chances that the group will no longer co- operate with you?
You are vegetarian for moral reasons. The informants are all meat-eaters. Do you eat meat with the informants?
Your informants use a lot of slang and swearing in their talk. You are not familiar with this slang and don’t swear much. Do you change the way you speak?