[URBANTH-L]a question concerning methods/ethics

Bascom Guffin mbguffin at ucdavis.edu
Wed Jul 29 22:09:43 EDT 2009

I would say that in the case of B (she/he doesn't care), I would still  
anonymize the informant. If they specifically ask that their names be  
mentioned, it becomes a tougher call. I know of one person who had DJs  
as informants, and many of them asked that their real names (at least  
their real DJ names) be used, because they saw it as an opportunity  
for publicity. In this case, you might consider using their real names  
to be a sort of reciprocation for the time and effort they've put in  
to helping you out. But this researcher still ended up anonymizing  
their sources, because informants made statements that the researcher  
determined could be controversial. There may have been other aspects  
to the researcher's reasoning as well. If the informants are public  
figures, other considerations might also apply, in that there may be  
good reason to use their real names, especially if it is overly  
difficult to hide their identities. All this is off the top of my  
head, and I am sure there are other members of the list who have given  
this much deeper thought, and been directly faced with these practical  
considerations. I too would be interested to hear what folks have to  


Bascom Guffin | PhD Candidate
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Davis
mbguffin at ucdavis.edu

On Jul 24, 2009, at 9:41 AM, Fethi Keles wrote:

> Friends,
> I would like to receive opinions on the following issue, if possible.
> What most everyone does when we write things up is to change names  
> and use pseudonyms etc. etc. But, what do you do if an informant a)  
> specifically asks to be identified with his/her actual name in your  
> study (book, article whatever) b) says s/he doesn't care/wouldn't  
> mind if you were to use his/her actual name?
> I feel the answer to this must be more than 'well go ahead and do as  
> s/he says', for there could be a whole lot of other implications if  
> one does so. Any readings you would suggest? What courses of action  
> would be on the table in the two cases above?
> Any thoughts will be appreciated. Thank you.
> Fethi Keles
> PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology
> Maxwell School
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