Off the Methodological Records: Sample Selection, Institutional Access, and Ambivalent Audit/Ethical Issues When Investigating Vulnerable People


This case study deals with some of the complexities that arose during the first stages of a research project on subsistence strategies of poor households in times of economic crisis in Catalonia, Spain. This case explains the implementation of a research with a vulnerable population and reflects on the ethical and methodological complexities that underlie the sample selection in both institutional and non-institutional contexts. It also illustrates the ambiguities or contradictions that arise when ethical and bureaucratic criteria compete, reflecting critically upon the new pressing requirements of modern research practices in public institutions: that is, auditing and accountability.

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