11:08:07 amCategories: Fieldwork, Writing

Research and ethics: France on Facebook

All of a sudden, people I knew from different circles in France started appearing on Facebook, about two years after the craze hit Norway. It reminded me of a question brought up in a seminar preparing graduate students for fieldwork I lead a while ago: Should one include one’s informants on one’s regular Facebook account? A girl wondered whether to keep two accounts; one for the fieldworker and one for her private self. If not, all attempts at anonymising would of course be futile.

There are several reasons why two accounts wouldn’t work. It would just be easier for the locals to puzzle out who is who on the more limited “research account”. An equally important objection is that immersed in the field, the researcher needs friends and for me and many others, it’s nothing more natural than to find them among one’s “informants”.

In Paris this is not a problem for me, as I have no intention of anonymising the slam poets. In my fieldwork in London, however, the situation is different, as the thesis was full of sensitive issues and all but a few people had to be unrecognisable. So even though I’ve found many of my former “informants” on Facebook and I would love to use that tool to get in touch with them again, I hesitate to include them in my network for everybody to see.


Comment from: Sara [Visitor]  

Cicilie, I prefer to not use facebook as a tool to get in touch with one’s informants if you want to protect their identities. Yet, you can send them inbox messeges via facebook without adding them telling each one that adding him or her to your friend list might reveal his or her identity which you are protecting. I think at this point they will trust you even more.

14/04/09 @ 04:35
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks for your comment, Sara! It’s interesting to hear how others deal with this new challenge to research ethics.

14/04/09 @ 19:15
Comment from: Term Papers [Visitor]  
Term Papers

Such a nice post, it is really interesting, want to admire your work, Thanks.

24/11/09 @ 12:01

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