Ethics, Ethnography and Education: Volume 19

Cover of Ethics, Ethnography and Education
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Table of contents

(11 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiv
Content available
Abstract

This chapter outlines the history of ethical regulation and considers how the position of ethics has shifted. The intent of this book is to explore novice and accomplished ethnographers ‘everyday, real-life’ ethical challenges and considerations against a backdrop of theoretical and ethical guideline scrutiny.

Abstract

In this chapter I draw on the philosophical anthropology of Bruno Latour to propose an account of the work of research ethics. Through a consideration of research ethics as text, I explore the ways in which any such text needs to be accompanied – by people, by processes, by other voices or other texts – in order to become meaningful and then impactful for the ethnographer of education. Research ethics are thus positioned as the technological outcome of a dialogue that is prone to misunderstanding and misinterpretation, notwithstanding the strictures of the processes and policies that increasingly seek to codify the work that ethnographers do in the field. Through arguing for Latour's recent philosophical anthropology as a conceptual toolkit for the exploration of research ethics, I propose that it is research ethics as object that should be the focal point for ongoing ethnographic inquiry.

Abstract

All research has the potential to affect people, ethnographers delve into the life of the every day of their participants, they walk their walk, talk their talk and strive for valid, in-depth contextualised data, gathered over a longitudinal and often intimate basis. Ethnography is explorative and inductive. It is messy, unpredictable and complex. Ethnography conducted with young people and children adds to the intricacy of managing ethically sound research practice within and beyond the field. In recent years, ethnographies with children, young people and families have become increasingly prominent, yet few scholars have written about conducting ethnographic research with children and young people (Albon & Barley, 2021; Levey, 2009; Mayeza, 2017). The ethnographer that works with children and young people needs to be aware that the power relationship between adults and children operates in complex and sometimes surprising ways and so needs to be ethically aware, ethically reactive and be prepared to be ethically challenged.

Abstract

This chapter derives from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a town close to Delhi, India. The research focused on schooling experiences of children from communities that are traditionally considered underprivileged. It required shadowing children throughout the day. This chapter reports on the experiences of researching with children and the ways in which child participation and research ethics emerged during the year of fieldwork. The idea of ‘child participation’ in the research process – within the Indian context is explored. The discourse around ethics in the current literature is primarily concerned with ideas of consent, gatekeeping and respecting children's rights. This chapter discusses the significance of the cultural contexts of the field in shaping the research ethics and developing what ‘child participation’ meant for children and their parents within this specific cultural context. It does so by elaborating on contradictions that existed between the way the ethnographer positioned the child and the way children are positioned in families and schools, where children's participation, opinion and consent are often silently presumed by the parents much more so than in a Euro-American context. Children are viewed as active agents, knowledgeable about their own positions in the research process.

Abstract

This chapter reflects on how ethics was managed in Basque educational ethnographic research. Specifically, it addresses researcher positionality when relating to research collaborators in an attempt to manage inclusive ethics in situ. Nowadays, most research is evaluated by an ethical review board that ensures adequate research practice. However, unexpected fieldwork events need to be managed in the field, and this chapter addresses the impact of these events on the relationship between researchers and collaborators. Influenced by a post-qualitative stance we posit that research collaborators should be included in the research process. It reflects on the data collected during an ongoing ethnographic study with higher education students. The method used includes several interview meetings between researchers and collaborators, multimodal representations of collaborators' learning, and participants' self-observations. In the interviews, participants' discourses, representations, and self-observations were collaboratively analysed. The ethnographic data from these meetings show how researchers use a collaborative approach to practise ethics. Through such meetings, the knowledge derived from the ethnographic data is co-constructed in a research relationship where participants engage in dialogue and negotiation about the discourse created around them. Based on this relationship, we propose the concept of inclusive ethics as a process requiring an honest, inclusive, and collaborative relationship with the research subject.

Abstract

Employing ethnographic methods online offers additional understanding of how online contexts are connected to education (Rusk, 2019; Ståhl & Kaihovirta, 2019; Ståhl & Rusk, 2020). As society evolves, new challenges arise for ethnography to claim its position as a methodology for understanding human sociality. For example, the definition of fieldwork might become blurred when the researcher has constant access to the field from their computer, and accessing a participant's perspective is made more complex when there is no, or limited, face-to-face interaction with participants (Beaulieu, 2004; Shumar & Madison, 2013). This chapter discusses some of the challenges experienced during the process of employing ethnographic methods with students playing the online multiplayer video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO, Valve Corporation & Hidden Path Entertainment, 2012) within an educational context. The challenges included maintaining participant integrity in terms of gaining informed consent from players that became co-observed, defining privacy online during the analysis and in dissemination and portraying participants accurately despite stakeholder interests. These challenges are discussed in relation to maintaining research ethics in situ together with participants and with the research context in mind. The intention is not to portray our approach as best practice, but rather to highlight and discuss the challenges faced.

Abstract

This chapter discusses the differences between face-to-face and online ethnographies of Scottish Country Dancing. It draws on fieldwork conducted firstly in Lyon in 2017 and subsequently in Edinburgh in 2017–2018, with further fieldwork in Edinburgh, due to the global pandemic, now taking place online. Online Scottish Country Dancing is challenging, especially given that this social dancing requires a partner and space. Due to the pandemic, how and why individuals do online dancing has shifted because people can now link in and across different locations. As a researcher as well as a dancer, my current project utilises blended ethnography, including textual analysis, fieldnotes, participant observations, interviews and surveys. Conducting online ethnographic practices raises specific ethical considerations and challenges, most notably concerning who is being observed and whether the participants are aware of being observed. This chapter addresses how the research aims to adapt ethnography from face-to-face fieldwork to online situations, in response to the impact of COVID-19 and associated ethical challenges.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

In this final chapter, I offer some conclusions relating to the issues discussed across the volume as a whole. Drawing together common as well as contrasting themes from the different empirical accounts that have been presented by the different authors, I argue for a reflexive and necessarily unpredictable mode of research ethics in the context of ethnographies of education.

Index

Pages 161-167
Content available
Cover of Ethics, Ethnography and Education
DOI
10.1108/S1529-210X202219
Publication date
2022-06-23
Book series
Studies in Educational Ethnography
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-83982-247-6
eISBN
978-1-80071-008-5
Book series ISSN
1529-210X