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Ethical Dilemmas and Reflections in a Collaborative Study with Children during the Pandemic

aNational Council of Scientific and Technical Research at Institute of Economic and Social Development (CIS-CONICET-IDES), Argentina
bUnioeste (State University of the Western Paraná), Brazil
cState University of Oaxaca (UABJO), México

Ethics, Ethnography and Education

ISBN: 978-1-83982-247-6, eISBN: 978-1-80071-008-5

Publication date: 23 June 2022


This chapter explores the ethical dilemmas that emerged in situ from an ethnographic study in collaboration with Latin American children and youngsters. It was developed in the challenging conditions of isolation and lockdown, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In such times, a group of eight researchers from different geographical locations in the Americas looked into the ways children reorganise, reconstruct and reinterpret their daily lives in social isolation. The methodological approach, which enabled dialogue and conversation, began through a system of correspondence – in oral, written, recorded, drawn, photographed and audiovisual forms – among Latin American children. The expectations about the viability of this fieldwork modality brought, from the beginning, ethical challenges that required continuous adjustments, agreements, rectifications, adaptations and explicit reflection on such ethical aspects. Here we focus on three challenges that we analyse individually, although in practice they were interconnected. The first one was the dilemma regarding perception and use of time. The second ethical challenge is based on the fact that we recruited the young participants through friendships and kinship networks that each of the eight researchers previously had. The third challenge was connected to the decision to communicate through letters (a markedly confessional, private and intimate epistolary genre) that were both intervened by our ‘special’ position and also taken as ethnographic documents. In our fieldwork, in the specific spatial and temporal situations we worked, we understand the self as emerging from intersubjectivity and knowledge relations as co-created between researcher and researched. Thus, ethical decisions are made during the research process itself and, for us, in situ ethics entails a reciprocal commitment, between children, youth and adults as co-researchers, to adjust themselves to the developments and boundaries of the ethnographic field. This also allowed the participants to manage the adjustments in this specific and situated context that circumscribed everybody, seeking answers in conversations and paying careful attention to the situation.



Milstein, D., Silva, R.C.M.e. and Clemente, A. (2022), "Ethical Dilemmas and Reflections in a Collaborative Study with Children during the Pandemic", Russell, L., Barley, R. and Tummons, J. (Ed.) Ethics, Ethnography and Education (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 19), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 129-150.



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Copyright © 2022 Diana Milstein, Regina Coeli Machado e Silva and Angeles Clemente. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited