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Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 38: Doing Research on Sensitive Topics: Studying Covered Turkish Women
Güliz Ger and Özlem Sandikci Scholars studying sensitive topics encounter various challenges at diﬀerent stages of the research. Although any topic can be perceived as sensitive, areas where the potential of physical and/or emotional threat to the researcher and the researched is substantial are generally regarded as highly sensitive. These include, for example, studies on terminal illnesses, death and dying (e.g., Alty and Rodham, 1998; Cannon, 1989; Johnson and Plant, 1996), deviant and criminal behavior (Bergen, 1993; Braithwaite, 1985; Herzberger, 1993) and political and interest groups (Brewer, 1990; Hoﬀman, 1980; Punch, 1989). Despite the fact that many of the topics that are addressed by the marketing scholars, such as the homeless (Hill and Stamey, 1990; Hill, 1991), aids (Raghubir and Menon, 1998), breast cancer (Pavia and Mason, 2004) and subcultures (Schouten and McAlexander, 1995; Kates, 2004) are all potentially sensitive, there is little guidance on how to conduct research on sensitive topics (Hill, 1995). The purpose of this chapter is to discuss potential dilemmas that marketing researchers might encounter while studying sensitive topics and to present possible solutions. However we should stress that our discussion draws from our personal experiences and does not claim to encompass all possible complexities experienced during diﬀerent phases of research. Speciﬁcally, we talk about the problems we faced while we were studying the consumption practices of covered women in Turkey. We believe that the study of covered women provides a good case to trace how methodological, ethical and political problems...
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