Media and Communication

PhD student Jack Pats is conducting an ethnographic study of a hostel for homeless men and has adopted the role of participant observer by means of working as a cook in the hostel kitchens, the only role that was offered to him by the hostel management. At the beginning of his period of fieldwork, the shelter manager had informed other workers in the hostel of Jack’s presence, but had not felt it necessary to explain his role to the hostel’s clients, not least because of the rapid turnover at the hostel. It is nonetheless clear that there is a certain element of confusion about Jack’s role amongst the other hostel employees, some of whom think he is there to check up on them. Jack has tried to explain his role, but this often leads to greater confusion. He decides only to inform homeless clients of his dual role when they are asked to take part in interviews. From some of the comments made by clients, it is clear that interviewees are also confused by Jack’s role, and believe him to be some form of social worker. It is also the case that on many occasions Jack has interviewed clients whilst they have been affected to varying degrees by their use of both prescribed and/or illegal drugs. Several clients have also told him about cases of malpractice at the hostel, involving the theft of personal belongings by hostel employees. Finally, Jack has told the people he interviewed that he will use pseudonyms in writing up his research to protect their anonymity, but some of the clients are very keen for their own names to be used.
Write up a short project review (800 words +/- 10%) outlining any concerns you see with the actions taken by the above researcher in terms of adhering to current standards of ethical research.