Ethical Dilemmas in Studying Family Consumption

Khanijou, Ratna and Pirani, Daniela. 2021. Ethical Dilemmas in Studying Family Consumption. Qualitative Market Research, 24(1), pp. 32-46. ISSN 1352-2752 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Drawing from the concept of micro-ethics to bridge reflexivity with ethics in practice, the paper provides a reflexive account of the various ethical dilemmas encountered by two family consumption scholars during their fieldwork. Both researchers conducted qualitative research on family meals. The paper reveals five types of ethical tensions that can arise when doing research on family consumption. These tensions are addressed as display, positioning, emotional, practical and consent dilemmas, all of which have ethical implications. The findings unpack these dilemmas, showing empirical and reflexive accounts of the researchers as they engage in ethics in practice. Solutions and practical strategies for dealing with these ethical tensions are provided.

Despite the growing interest in interpretive family research, there is less attention on the ethical and emotional challenges researchers face when entering the family consumption scape. As researching families involves entering an intimate area of participants’ lives, the field may be replete with tensions that may affect the researcher. This paper brings the concept of micro-ethics to family marketing literature, showing how researchers can do ethics in practice. The paper draws on reflexive accounts of two researchers’ personal experiences, showing their emotional, practical, positioning and display challenges. It also provides practical strategies for researchers to deal with dilemmas in the field.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


reflexivity, ethics, consumption, family, display, dilemmas

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


10 November 2019Accepted
7 February 2020Published Online
January 2021Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Oct 2021 13:53

Last Modified:

21 Oct 2021 18:09

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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