Ethnographic Fieldwork on Sexual Behavior

Marcelo Montes Penha, Michele G. Shedlin, Carol A. Reisen, Paul J. Poppen, Fernanda T. Bianchi, Carlos U. Decena and Maria Cecilia Zea

in AIDS, Culture, and Gay Men

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034317
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039312 | DOI:
Ethnographic Fieldwork on Sexual Behavior

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In conducting ethnographic research, it is important that fieldworkers have ethical guidelines to provide direction concerning ethical standards, professional conduct, and methods of obtaining high-quality data. In this chapter, the authors address issues that they faced in developing guidelines for ethnographic fieldwork on sexual behavior among Latino men who have sex with men (MSM). Ethnographic observations were conducted as part of a larger study concerning contextual influences on sexual risk among Brazilian, Colombian, and Dominican gay men in the New York City area. Gay-identified Latino fieldworkers carried out participant observation in venues where Latino men went to socialize and to find sex partners. Existing guidelines from professional organizations did not adequately address the unique and special conditions that these fieldworkers faced. Therefore, the authors set out to create their own set of guidelines that prohibited sex and drinking between researchers and their informants. This chapter also compares the different ethical guidelines developed by the two leading psychological and anthropological organizations, the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Association, and observes greater ethical flexibility among anthropologists.

Keywords: Latino men; ethnographic research; ethical guidelines; sexual behavior; gay men; New York City; American Psychological Association; American Anthropological Association; anthropologists

Chapter.  4073 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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