We examine the choices, dilemmas, and opportunities confronting ethnography at a moment in which face-to-face interaction is deemed dangerous and prohibited by many university human subjects committees. As scholars who have examined vulnerable seniors through intense engagement, we recognize that our presence can spread disease, just as we might become infected by those very informants. Yet, ethnography serves a necessary role in charting the conditions of the vulnerable and identifying points of intervention. The Covid-19 virus and its effects on research might truncate the granular observations that have made ethnography such a profoundly incisive method in the short term, but it may also permit reflection and methodological innovation that can contribute to both theory and policy. In this vein, our unwanted hiatus provides an opportunity to work on longstanding concerns such as ethnographic transparency while simultaneously advancing innovative styles of research. Whether we will seize this opportunity remains uncertain.
- Human subjects
- Senior citizens
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science