Contextualizing Ethical Dilemmas: Ethnography for Bioethics

Elisa J. Gordon, Betty Wolder Levin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Ethnography is a qualitative, naturalistic research method derived from the anthropological tradition. Ethnography uses participant observation supplemented by other research methods to gain holistic understandings of cultural groups' beliefs and behaviors. Ethnography contributes to bioethics by: (1) locating bioethical dilemmas in their social, political, economic, and ideological contexts; (2) explicating the beliefs and behaviors of involved individuals; (3) making tacit knowledge explicit; (4) highlighting differences between ideal norms and actual behaviors; (5) identifying previously unrecognized phenomena; and (6) generating new questions for research. More comparative and longitudinal ethnographic research can contribute to better understanding of and responses to bioethical dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmpirical Methods for Bioethics
Subtitle of host publicationA Primer
EditorsLiva Jacoby, Laura Siminoff
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2007

Publication series

NameAdvances in Bioethics
ISSN (Print)1479-3709

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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