Empirical Ethics; Socrates professor dept of Antropologie UvA

Focus of research


Jeannette Pols is Socrates professor at the department of Anthropology.

Until 2006, I designed and conducted philosophically informed ethnographic studies investigating care practices in mental health care and care for the elderly at the Trimbos Institute. My approach was to observe participants ‘in action’ rather than focusing on their accounts. Observing activities allowed me to articulate different ‘tacit theories’ of ‘good care’, which correlate particular forms of ‘tacit ethics’ (depicting what is good to do) with particular forms of ‘tacit knowledge’ (detailing what is the matter with patients). My PhD-research, which was funded by an NWO Ethics & Policy grant, is about this work.

For the AMC I developed innovative theoretically-based ethnographic research into telecare technologies targeting individuals with chronic illness. I discovered that, in contrast to mental health care patients who are well-organised, somatic patients were often socially isolated. I also discovered that the main benefit of telecare technologies was the building of mutually supportive relationships among patients exchanging knowledge, rather than facilitating doctor-patient interaction. This had been completely overlooked in policies supporting ‘self-management. The formation of caring patient communities, the development of patient knowledge, and the role of technologies in achieving this, are central in my current and future research.

Currently, my research includes the meaning of aesthetic values in everyday life and care, and the meaning of art for care. Empirical ethics studies into the everyday practices of conducting 'good science' add to my my current work. A study on Good replication starts in september 2021.