Author(s): Williams T, Dunlap E, Johnson BD, Hamid A
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Abstract Personal safety during fieldwork is seldom addressed directly in the literature. Drawing from many prior years of ethnographic research and from field experience while studying crack distributors in New York City, the authors provide a variety of strategies by which ethnographic research can be safely conducted in dangerous settings. By projecting an appropriate demeanor, ethnographers can seek others for protector and locator roles, routinely create a safety zone in the field, and establish compatible field roles with potential subjects. The article also provides strategies for avoiding or handling sexual approaches, common law crimes, fights, drive-by shootings, and contacts with the police. When integrated with other standard qualitative methods, ethnographic strategies help to ensure that no physical harm comes to the field-worker and other staff members. Moreover, the presence of researchers may actually reduce (and not increase) potential and actual violence among crack distributors/abusers or others present in the field setting.
This article was published in J Contemp Ethnogr
and referenced in Journal of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence