Protecting privacy in action-oriented fieldwork

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© 1979 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved. Genuine protection of informant privacy requires us to take a field-centered approach. Treating privacy as a question for study will provide ethnographic insights that may help in the development of effective action projects. These advantages of a field-derived concept of privacy apply not only in cross-cultural research, but also in the case of fieldwork conducted within our own society. Each privacy-risk situation that arose had to be evaluated to determine in what way privacy might be jeopardized, and how the risk could be minimized. A different facet of the problem of protecting informants' privacy lies in the working relationship that develops between the anthropologist and individual informants. Another possible approach to strengthening the parent position vis-a-vis the school would be to develop neighborhood cohesion around some school-related issue of common interest. Protection of informant privacy during fieldwork, therefore, depends on the nature of the local culture and on the nature of the fieldwork.

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Federal Regulations: Ethical Issues and Social Research

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