Situational ethics in a feminist ethnography on commercial surrogacy in Russia: Negotiating access and authority when recruiting participants through institutional gatekeepers
In this article, I discuss methodological and ethical dilemmas that arose when I was recruiting participants with the help of medical and institutional gatekeepers during my ethnographic fieldwork on commercial surrogacy in St Petersburg, Russia. Using four selected case studies, I argue for the use of situational ethics. Ethics that are approved by institutional advisory boards prior to data collection are important to ensure that researchers do their best to identify potential ethical issues and offer deontological safeguards. However, as empirical researchers we are familiar with the unanticipated that is bound to happen once we commence data collection. I argue that in such cases, when the proposed and approved ethical conduct is no longer appropriate and researchers must make new ethical choices, situational ethics that take the immediate context into consideration are crucial. I further argue that situational ethics must not only be an extension of procedural ethics when the latter are no longer suited in situ, but an alternative option to procedural ethics from the beginning in order to make the research more ethical, empowering, and transformative of existing disadvantaging power relations. With this article, I encourage fellow (feminist) ethnographers to think outside the tick boxes for institutional advisory boards and contribute to the growing body of literature that argues in favour of situational ethics.
Citation : Weis, C. (2018) Situational ethics in a feminist ethnography on commercial surrogacy in Russia: Negotiating access and authority when recruiting participants through institutional gatekeepers. Methodological Innovations,
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)
Peer Reviewed : Yes