Human Dignity Protection in Social Science Research: Perspectives from Selected African Countries

  • Jane WathutaEmail author
  • Muriel Fikile Mnisi
Part of the Research Ethics Forum book series (REFF, volume 7)


This chapter assesses the extent of human dignity protection in the context of social science research in Africa. The availability and content of national research ethics policies, laws and guidelines of a variety of African countries is the guiding factor in this regard. An overview of the current situation regarding social science research ethics and respect for human dignity is given. Reference is made, in this perspective, to some of the universal research ethics guidelines. Despite their merits, the inadequacies of the universal research ethics guidelines can be summarised in a single aspect: the predominance or bias towards biomedical research insofar as it focuses heavily on the quantitative method and contains traces of positivist, formal and individualist thinking (even though South Africa has a document that also focuses on qualitative research). This then necessitates bringing to the fore some useful ethical frameworks and values to shed more light on the meaning of respect for dignity while conducting research in the African context. The examination of pertinent National Research Ethics policies, laws and guidelines of the given countries in Africa revealed that these National Research Ethics policies, laws and guidelines in use in parts of Africa could make explicit provision for ethics review of Social Science research, while incorporating African values. This will make them more protective of the human dignity and wellbeing of social science research participants in Africa.


Human dignity Social science research Africa Biomedical research Ethics review Research ethics policies Laws Guidelines 


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Suggested Further Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Strathmore UniversityNairobiKenya
  2. 2.University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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