This paper examines researcher/respondent relationships in a fieldwork study of a hospital ward for the care of patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The nurses' work was the subject of study. Taking the position that verstehen is a precondition of research, and using Mead's argument that one can be an object to oneself, key aspects of the relationship between the researcher and the nurses are rendered problematic. The investigation illuminates institutional constraints, the ideological position of the nurses, and the social psychology of work on the ward. It is argued that substantive elements of the situation may be discovered through the analysis of personal relationship data.

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