An Ethics-of-Care Paradigm in Opposition Research The Tensions of Studying a Pro-Life Organization

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Sommer Marie Sterud


This paper explores how I navigated the complicated terrain of opposition research during the dissertation phase of my doctoral program. Drawing from ethnographic research conducted on a pro-life organization, I illustrate that care-based ethics (Held, 2006; Tronto, 1994) is not just for vulnerable and agreeable participants but is valuable and appropriate for researching powerful groups whom we oppose. Furthermore, I argue that rhetorical listening (Glenn & Ratcliffe, 2011; Ratcliffe, 1999, Ratcliffe, 2005) is not just a valuable methodological approach to research, but also a form of reciprocity, especially critical when studying groups we oppose. Such an approach promotes the mutually beneficial goals of respect and understanding. 

Article Details

Special Section on Ethics
Author Biography

Sommer Marie Sterud, Kent State University

Sommer is a Phd candidate, teaching fellow, and feminist researcher who is currently doing ethnographic work on a pro-life organization. Her general research areas, however, are social movements, activism, and civic engagement.



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