Moral Laboratories (Paperback)

Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life

By Cheryl Mattingly

University of California Press, 9780520281202, 280pp.

Publication Date: October 3, 2014

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (10/3/2014)

List Price: 32.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Moral Laboratories is an engaging ethnography and a groundbreaking foray into the anthropology of morality. It takes us on a journey into the lives of African American families caring for children with serious chronic medical conditions, and it foregrounds the uncertainty that affects their struggles for a good life. Challenging depictions of moral transformation as possible only in moments of breakdown or in radical breaches from the ordinary, it offers a compelling portrait of the transformative powers embedded in day-to-day existence. From soccer fields to dinner tables, the everyday emerges as a moral laboratory for reshaping moral life. Cheryl Mattingly offers vivid and heart-wrenching stories to elaborate a first-person ethical framework, forcefully showing the limits of third-person renderings of morality. 

About the Author

Cheryl Mattingly is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Division of Occupational Science at the University of Southern California. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. She is the award-winning author of The Paradox of Hope: Journeys through a Clinical Borderland and Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience and coeditor, with Linda Garro, of Narrative and Cultural Construction of Illness and Healing, among other books.

Praise For Moral Laboratories: Family Peril and the Struggle for a Good Life

"Mattingly convincingly bolsters her claims . . . an excellent demonstration of ethnographic and theoretical work."

— Ezelle Sanford III