Agricultural ethics, neurotic natures and emotional encounters: An application of actor-network theory

Ethics, Place and Environment 7 (3):195 – 201 (2004)
Abstract
Fieldwork experiences in the summer of 2003 resulted in confusion regarding the ethical positioning of myself (the interviewer) in relation to the multiple 'actants' that constituted the research subject(s). This paper explores some of these personal issues and conflicts in order to clarify, gain perspective on and critique the nature (and indeed the 'Nature') of my fieldwork. The multiple positioning of participants within networks of agricultural and social ethics is addressed. I borrow Lewis Holloway's idea of relational ethical identity, in order to resituate and rethink the interviews in terms of actor-network theory. This paper argues that ethical identities and ethical 'natures' can be understood as relationally constructed and constituted within networks. The ways in which notions of (un)ethical agricultural relations shaped each interview experience are also explored. Specifically, how did my ideas of (un)ethical farming influence my 'ethical take' on how different farmers operated? I also argue that all encounters are ethically charged and, as such, encounters result in emotional tensions.
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