Part 1, then, begins with Dingwall's analysis and evaluation of ethical regulation in the social sciences. Following a socio-historical account of the present regulatory regime, which concludes that ethical regulation has been and remains largely a matter of reputation management, he proceeds to consider the costs and benefits of ethical regulation. Dingwall argues that far from being indicative of anarchic and now largely anachronistic administrative regimes, autonomy and decentralisation were in fact finely evolved structural responses to facilitate innovation and creative knowledge generation within institutions of higher education. The spasms of centralisation that have accompanied the rise of ethical regulation reflect a wider managerialism and corporatism that not only inhibit innovation, but are also largely inward-facing and therefore more concerned with shielding the institution than protecting vulnerable research subjects. The costs of ethical regulation in its present form may well outweigh the benefits. Examining research ethics in the context of a knowledge economy, Harrison and Rooney reach remarkably similar conclusions in relation to ethical autonomy and decentralisation. Introducing the main traditions of western moral philosophy, they progress to a discussion of research ethics in the context of normative ethical positions in society more broadly. After examining three seminal, social research projects, they point up the failure of traditional approaches and again indicate the importance of organisational structures. Rather than unreflexively policing abstract codes of conduct, which by implication are thoroughly outflanked by the complexities of a contemporary political economy of knowledge, research institutions they argue must generate wise ethical cultures through the production of institutional ethical spaces. Here autonomous reflection, individual engagement and ethical dialogue form an organic base for wise organisation. Rather than a ‘tickbox’ approach to satisfy legal and professional obligations, one imagines an institutional culture of ethical deliberation that extends to consider the furthermost implications for society.
Love, K. (2012), "Open Questions: Ethics and Social Research", Love, K. (Ed.) Ethics in Social Research (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. ix-xvii. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1042-3192(2012)0000012003Download as .RIS
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