Title

Telling Tales on Neighbors: Ethical Quandaries in Two Voices

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Keywords

Social Justice, Ethics, Ethnography, Autoethnography, Narrative, Neighbors, Ethics of Writing, Dialogic Representation, Arts and Humanities, Communication, Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies, Social History, Social Psychology and Interaction, Sociology

Abstract

Focusing on the ethics of writing about others in ethnographic and autoethnographic tales, this article provides excerpts from stories about neighbors in a mountain community that show differences and conflicts about religion, gender, ethnicity, and race. The author provides a dialogic representation of the debates that occurred in her mind about the process and ethics of writing these stories. These introspective conversations reveal the vulnerable, muddy, and ambivalent process of making ethical decisions in qualitative research. These complex decisions require integrating our own moral positions with society's call for scholarship that contributes to social justice; readers' demands for truthful and multifaceted accounts; and research participants' and characters' desire for privacy, positive representation, and control over the stories of their lives. The author encourages open dialogue about the ethical quandaries experienced in doing qualitative research.