19 SES 03, Ethics and Research in Educational Ethnography (Part 2)
Symposium continued from 19 SES 02
As discussed by Barbara Dennis in a recent chapter on research ethics in the new Handbook of Educational Ethnography (Dennis, 2017), the ethical education ethnographer enters the field legitimized through approvals by ethical review boards, as a hopefully self-aware and reflective researcher, with basically good intentions. However, as Dennis then also adds, the awareness and the good intentions are often called into question in practice, as the question of what it means to be an ethical educational ethnographer is not isolated from how we contemplate, confront, engage as ethical beings with/in the world with others. This takes what it means to ethically engage in research beyond the scope of what can be evaluated by ethical assessment boards. Researching ethically has to do with responsibility for the entanglements “we” help enact and the commitments “we” are willing to take on (Dennis, 2017) not the accountability we are attributed as ethically appraised subjects by ethics boards (Beach and Eriksson, 2010). It has to do with how ethnographers act in the practical domain of everyday life where the course of ethical actions is both interdependently and situationally forged guided by first-hand experiences and influenced by commitments to scientific, ideological, and political goals, beliefs and practices all at the same time (Dennis 2010). This transforms the question of “what it means to be an ethical ethnographer (as assessed by ethical boards) to a question of how can we engage in ethnography ethically and re-think ethics for educational ethnography. This question is compounded further given post-qualitative methodological convers(at)ions and the deconstruction of the modern subject where claims to truth have become troublingly micro-scoped and the agentic ways of conceptualizing research ethics that ethics committees are constituted in terms of and act toward are undermined. The call is for a more participatory approach to ethics that involves collectively creating a space of opportunity for ethical practices quite independently of the assessments of ethical boards, but without questioning the necessity and value of the same. As Dennis (2017) makes quite clear, behaving ethically in educational ethnography involves engaging with imaginative possibilities with others within activities where one’s researcher self is at stake, as both open and fallible. In the roundtable we will take up the implications of this in relation to and through examples drawn from pain and Sweden.
Beach, D. & Eriksson, A. (2010). The relationship between ethical positions and methodological approaches: A Scandinavian perspective, Ethnography and Education, vol. 5, no 2, pp 129-142. Dennis, B. (2010). Ethical dilemmas in the field: The complex nature of doing education ethnography, Ethnography and Education, vol. 5, no, 2, pp. 123–127. Dennis, B. (2017). Tales of Working Without/Against a Compass: Rethinking Ethical Dilemmas in Educational Ethnography, in D. Beach, C. Bagley and S Marques da Silva (Eds). The Handbook of Ethnography of Education. New York and London: Wiley.
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