Ethical and Effective Ethnographic Research Methods: A Case Study With Afghan Refugees in California
Smith, Valerie J.
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 2009 September; 4(3): 59-72
SCHOLARLY STUDIES OF REFUGEES and other vulnerable populations carry special ethical concerns. In this invited case study of Afghan refugees in Fremont, California, I provide illustrations and recommendations of ethical research methods with refugees. I also compare and contrast some ethical issues in the U.S. with issues in Thailand. The qualitative, ethnographic methods I report here demonstrate how to conduct culturally sensitive investigations by ethically approaching gatekeepers and other community members to preserve autonomy, ensure confidentiality, build trust, and improve the accuracy of interpretations and results. Six groups at risk for being marginalized in multiple ways within refugee populations are described. Ten best practices are recommended for ethically acquiring an in-depth understanding of the refugees, their community, and appropriate research methods.
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