November 9, 2008

Ethics: relationships and bodies

The workshop focused on research relationships, which are suffused with ethical implications. Discussions of how relationships modulate ways of knowing are therefore ethical discussions. Bodies were important starting points for ethical considerations as well. While something can be left out from a research report or a paper simply because of coyness or the taboo nature of the theme, from an ethical point of view, it can be relevant and even urgent to address it. Audience’s response may be too threatening to include most revealing details in a publication, but the discussion of what is at stake in not revealing and what makes it so difficult was an especially powerful part of the workshop. We also argued about how to proceed when sensitive themes are relevant to the overall study and argumentation and when they can be left out. Highly imbalanced power relations and danger of being exploitative are the usual cases discussed, but our workshop raised many other ethically difficult situations. Is it possible to be ethical in regard to everyone and everything? What goes first, the participants or the research results? Or is it impossible to separate the two?

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