Advertisement

Sociology and Ethics

Doing the Right Thing
  • Lisa-Jo K. van den ScottEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

The state of ethics in sociology today hinges, in part, on models which are inappropriate for many forms of social science research and, in part, on the move away from the hegemony of these models, with varying success across countries and regions. Australia and parts of Europe, for example, have made considerable strides in this matter. Considerations of ethics in sociology have expanded dramatically in a turn toward recognizing the agency of those whom we study. Conversations today center around mitigating power dynamics between researchers and participants, reflexivity on the part of the researcher, and an engagement with feminist and Indigenous methods. This has led to a proliferation of work on community-based research and the importance of trust-based relationships in social science work. Concerns around anonymity and confidentiality remain but are often at odds with the movement toward community-based and public policy research. Debates emphasize the challenge of doing ethical research under the current regime of regulatory boards which operate in a legalistic and often exclusively positivist framework.

Keywords

Sociology Reflexivity Power dynamics Feminist methods Indigenous methods Ethics review 

References

  1. Adler PA (1993) Wheeling and dealing: an ethnography of an upper-level drug dealing and smuggling community. Columbia University Press, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adler PA, Adler P (1993) Ethical issues in self-censorship: Ethnographic research on sensitive topics. In: Renzetti CM, Lee RM (eds) Research Sensitive Topics. Sage, Newbury Park, pp 249–266Google Scholar
  3. Becker HS (1967) Whose side are we on? Soc Probl 14(3):239–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker-Blease K, Freyd JJ (2006) Research participants telling the truth about their lives: the ethics of asking and not asking about abuse. Am Psychol 61(3):218–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell K (2014) Resisting commensurability: against informed consent as an anthropological virtue. Am Anthropol 116(3):1–12Google Scholar
  6. Bergum V (1991) Being a phenomenological researcher. In: Morse J (ed) Qualitative Nursing Research: A Contemporary Dialogue. Sage, London, pp 55–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhattacharya K (2007) Consenting to the consent form: what are the fixed and fluid understandings between the researcher and the researched? Qual Inq 13(8):1095–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bledsoe CH et al (2007) Regulating creativity: research and survival in the IRB iron cage. Northwestern Univ Law Rev 101(2):593–641Google Scholar
  9. Boser S (2007) Power, ethics, and the IRB: dissonance over human participant review of participatory research. Qual Inq 13(8):1060–1074CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bosk CL, De Vries RG (2004) Bureaucracies of mass deception: institutional review boards and the ethics of ethnographic research. Ann Am Acad Polit Soc Sci 595(1):249–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bruner E (2004) Ethnographic practice and human subjects review. Anthropol Newsl 45(1):10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Castleden H, Sloan Morgan V, Lamb C (2012) ‘I spent the first year drinking tea’: exploring Canadian university researchers’ perspectives on community-based participatory research involving indigenous peoples. Can Geogr 56(2):160–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Childress H (2006) The anthropologist and the crayons: changing our focus from avoiding harm to doing good. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics 1(2):79–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Christensen T (2018) Collateral damage. In: Kleinknecht S, van den Scott L-JK, Sanders CB (eds) The craft of qualitative research. Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, pp 25–31Google Scholar
  15. Cohen P (2007) As ethics panels expand grip, no field is off limits” in New York Times 28 FebGoogle Scholar
  16. Conn LG (2008) Ethics policy as audit in Canadian clinical settings: exiling the ethnographic method. Qual Res 8(4):499–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dougherty DS, Kramer MW (2005) Organizational power and the institutional review board. J Appl Commun Res 33(3):277–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fine GA (1993) Ten lies of ethnography: moral dilemmas of field research. J Contemp Ethnogr 22(3):267–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fine GA (1996) Kitchens: the culture of restaurant work. University of CA Press, Berkeley/LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Giddens A (1990) The consequences of modernity. Stanford University Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  21. Grills S (2018) Reconsidering relations in the field: attending to dominance processes in the ethnographic encounter. In: Kleinknecht S, van den Scott L-JK, Sanders CB (eds) The craft of qualitative research. Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, pp 152–159Google Scholar
  22. Iphofen R (2009/2011) Ethical decision making in social research: a practical guide. Palgrave Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Iphofen R (2011) Ethical decision making in qualitative research. Qual Res 11(4):443–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Iphofen R (2017) Conclusion: guiding the ethics of online social media research – adaption or renovation? Adv Res Ethics Integr 2:235–240Google Scholar
  25. Irvine JM (2012) Can’t ask, can’t tell: how institutional review boards keep sex in the closet. Contexts 11(2):28–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Israel BA, Schulz AJ, Parker EA, Becker AB (1998) Review of community-based research: assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annu Rev Public Health 19:173–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. ITK and NRI (2006) Nickels S, Shirley J, Laidler G (eds) Negotiating research relationships with Inuit communities: a guide for researchers. Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Nunavut Research Institute, Ottawa and Iqaluit. https://www.nri.nu.ca/sites/default/files/public/files/06-068_itk_nrr_booklet.pdf
  28. Jacobs S (1980) Where have we come? Soc Probl 27:371–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Katz J (2007) Toward a natural history of ethical censorship. Law Soc Rev 41(4):797–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lareau A (2014) Unequal childhoods: class, race, and family life. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  31. Lofland JF (1971) Analyzing social settings. Wadsworth, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Loftus EF (2008) Perils of provocative scholarship. APS Obs 21(5). https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/perils-of-provocative-scholarship
  33. Lynch M (2000) Against reflexivity as an academic virtue and source of privileged knowledge. Theory Cult Soc 17(3):26–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lynch M, Mah C (2018) Collecting social media data in qualitative research. In: Kleinknecht S, van den Scott L-JK, Sanders CB (eds) The craft of qualitative research. Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, pp 245–253Google Scholar
  35. Puddephatt AJ, Shaffir W, Kleinknecht SW (2009) Ethnographies revisited: constructing theory in the field. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rosaldo R (1993) Culture and truth: the remaking of social analysis. Beacon, BostonGoogle Scholar
  37. Smith DE (2010) Institutional ethnography as practice. Rowman & Littlefield, LanhamGoogle Scholar
  38. South African San Institute (2017) San code of research ethics. Trust: equitable research partnerships. http://trust-project.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/San-Code-of-RESEARCH-Ethics-Booklet-final.pdf
  39. Spicker P (2011) Ethical covert research. Sociology 45(1):118–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Spradley JP (1979) The ethnographic interview. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Thurairajah K (2018) ‘The person behind the research:’ Reflexivity and the qualitative process. In: Kleinknecht S, van den Scott L-JK, Sanders CB (eds) The craft of qualitative research. Canadian Scholars Press, Toronto, pp 10–16Google Scholar
  42. Tinker A, Coomber V (2004) University research ethics committees: their role, remit and conduct. King’s College, LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Tummons J (2017) Institutional ethnography, theory, methodology, and research: Some concerns and some comments. In: Reid J, Russell L (eds) Perspectives on and from institutional ethnography. Studies in qualitative methodology, vol 15. Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp 147–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. van den Hoonaard WC (2011) The seduction of ethics: transforming the social sciences. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  45. van den Hoonaard DK (2012) Qualitative research in action. Oxford University Press, Don MillsGoogle Scholar
  46. van den Hoonaard WC, Hamilton A (2016) The ethics rupture: exploring alternatives to formal research ethics review. University of Toronto Press, TorontoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. van den Scott L-JK (2012) Science, politics, and identity in northern research ethics licensing. J Empir Res Hum Res Ethics 7(1):28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. van den Scott L-JK (2013) Working with aboriginal populations: an attitude of learning. In: Sieber J, Tolich M (eds) Planning ethically responsible research, 2nd edn. Sage, Los Angeles, pp 128–129Google Scholar
  49. van den Scott L-JK (2016) The socialization of contemporary students by ethics boards: malaise and ethics for graduate students. In: van den Hoonaard WC, Hamilton A (eds) The ethics rupture: exploring alternatives to formal research ethics review. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, pp 230–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. van den Scott L-JK (2018) Role transitions in the field and reflexivity: from friend to researcher. Studies in Qual Method: (Special Issue) Emotion and the Researcher: Sites, Subjectivities and Relationships 16:19–32Google Scholar
  51. Wiles R, Charles V, Crow G, Heath S (2006) Researching researchers: lessons for research ethics. Qual Res 6(3):283–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Woodfield K, Iphofen R (2018) Introduction to volume 2: the ethics of online research. Adv Res Ethics Integr 2:1–12Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Smith LT (2012) Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. van den Hoonaard WC, van den Hoonaard DK (2016) Essentials of thinking ethically in qualitative research. Left Coast Press, Walnut CreekCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

Personalised recommendations