(Internal seminar) Ethics in practice: Tensions between prospective and emergent research ethics
A seminar with Sara Eldén, Associate Professor and Director of Research Studies at the Department of Sociology at Lund University. The seminar is only for staff at the Sociology of Law Department.
Research ethics today are, to a great extent, articulated by prospective regulations. Laws, rules and committee-based procedures aim to anticipate ethical problems and secure good principles in a given project in advance. Much research, and particularly qualitative research, is however characterized by what might be called emergent ethics. Although some risks can be foreseen, many others evolve during the project and are closely related to unfolding methodological challenges embedded in interactions in the field (Wästerfors, 2019).
In this talk, I discuss the tension between the need to adhere to prospective ethics regimes, and the experience of emergent ethical dilemmas in research practice. The point of departure is a recently published book, Forskningsetik: Vägval i samhällsvetenskapliga studier (Studentlitteratur, 2020), where I highlight and discuss both current ethics regulations in Sweden, but also ethics in practice, that is, ethical questions that may emerge in all stages of a research project – from the formulation of the research problem to fieldwork, analysis, and reporting of a study. I argue that the social sciences need to reclaim expertise in the field of research ethics, critically engaging with the current top-down regulation, which has resulted in a review process where the biomedical model basically defines what research is, how it is carried out and what is considered to be ethical conduct.
Sara Eldén's research interests are feminist theory, sociology of family and personal life, and childhood sociology.