Confronting Collaboration: Dilemmas in an Ethnographic Study of Health Policy Makers
Anthropology in Action
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... . Please consult the full DRO policy for further details. Abstract In this article we report on collaborative, ethnographic research investigating the first regional tobacco control office in the U.K. and some of the dilemmas it poses. The ideal of collaboration is fully realizable in this setting, where the participants are both eager and qualified to contribute meaningfully to the project. However, the fulfilment of such an ideal poses its own problems. For example, the educational level and professional expertise of participants allows them to fully engage with the theoretical framework to the extent that they could, if allowed, rewrite manuscripts. Other issues are more subtle, such as how to establish appropriate boundaries between the researcher and the tobacco control office staff and their perspectives. We suggest that collaborative research presupposes differentials of power, education and culture that do not necessarily apply in the case of research with health policy-makers in such settings. The challenge is to maintain a balance between collaboration and research especially when there are no power differentials between the researchers and participants but there are power differentials between the participants.