Ethics On The Run

The New Rambler Review, May 2015

Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 15-34

11 Pages Posted: 29 May 2015

Date Written: May 26, 2015

Abstract

Alice Goffman’s widely acclaimed On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City has drawn more positive attention than almost any sociology book in recent years. The success of the book led to a lecture tour of at least twenty sociology departments and conferences. Her TED talk, which was often interrupted by applause, has had nearly 700,000 views. A careful reading of On the Run, however, leaves me with vexing questions about the author’s accuracy and reliability. There are just too many incidents that strike me as unlikely to have occurred as she describes them. One must try to keep an open mind about such things – especially regarding someone as obviously brilliant and dedicated as Goffman – so readers may disagree with me about the extent of her embellishments. In any event, there is a bigger problem. As I will explain below, Goffman appears to have participated in a serious felony in the course of her field work – a circumstance that seems to have escaped the notice of her teachers, her mentors, her publishers, her admirers, and even her critics.

Keywords: ethnology, ethics, social science

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Lubet, Steven, Ethics On The Run (May 26, 2015). The New Rambler Review, May 2015; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 15-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2611742

Steven Lubet (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-6605 (Phone)

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