The Ethics of Covert Ethnographic Research

  • Marco MarzanoEmail author


Covert ethnographic research is a method in which the researchers do not reveal the true purpose of their presence among the individuals they are observing. In settings where covert research is not restricted by ethics regulations, the choice between masking and revealing one’s identity does not depend solely on the will of the researcher. I illustrate this using three studies in which I conducted covert research within a hospital and two religious organisations. The chapter concludes by describing the factors which urge a resumption of covert research. This may happen only if a strictly deontological perspective is rejected in favour of one that centres on social critique and the difficult search for truth about the most invisible and sensitive aspects of our social lives.


Covert Research Cancer Ward Parrhesia fieldField Palliative Care Ward 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università degli studi di BergamoBergamoItalia

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