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Family Story as Political Science: Reflections on Writing Trapped in America’s Safety Net

  • Andrea Louise Campbell


Intimate ethnography presents a number of challenges: How could I write about my own family in a way that was true to their experience but also an “objective” report? How could I convey telling details without robbing my family of their privacy? How could I rein in my emotions to report their story, and did I pick and choose facts to protect them or to make them more sympathetic? How could I generalize from their experience to that of millions of social assistance recipients? In this Reflections essay, I consider these challenges in light of what other social scientists have said about the issues of close work with individual, sometimes vulnerable, research subjects.



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Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
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