The problems of bioethics are embedded in people's lives and social worlds. They are shaped by individual biographies and relationships, by the ethos and institutions of health care, by economic and political pressures, by media depictions, and by the assumptions, beliefs, and values that permeate cultures and times. Yet these forces are largely ignored by a professional bioethics that concentrates on the theoretical justification of decisions.
The original essays in this volume use qualitative research methods to expose the multiple contexts within which the problems of bioethics arise, are defined and debated, and ultimately resolved. In a provocative concluding essay, one contributor asks his fellow ethnographers to reflect on the ethical problems of ethnography.
"Bioethics in Social Context energizes both bioethics and ethnography. The authors expand the scope of what issues bioethics should consider, and they demonstrate how culture, mass media, emotions, families, and institutions are relevant in consideration of those issues. In doing all this, they open new possibilities for the empirical investigation of moral life." —Arthur W. Frank, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Calgary, and author of The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics and At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness
"...this book provides a valuable contribution to the expanding field of empirically based ethics, or 'ethics in use', revealing the moral decisions people make in the real world, and how and why they make those decisions." — Journal of Medical Ethics