Whose Ethics? Codifying and enacting ethics in research settings

Whose Ethics? Codifying and enacting ethics in research settings Journal Article

Australian Aboriginal Studies

  • Author(s): Davis, M, Holcombe, S
  • Published: 2010
  • Volume: 2010

Abstract: Courtesy, modesty, good manners, conformity to definite ethical standards are universal. But what constitutes courtesy, modesty and good manners and ethical standards is not universal. It is instructive to know that standards differ in the most unexpected ways. It is still more important to know how the individual reacts to these standards (Franz Boas in the foreword to Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa, 1928). This quote highlights the conundrum that those working in the social sciences and humanities face today with the ever-burgeoning development of ethical standards and associated tools and resources to ensure conformity and compliance to a standard. Whose ‘standard’ is it that is being developed and promoted? And who are the intended users of those resources (codes, protocols, guidelines) that are designed to manage and uphold ethical standards? These questions may seem commonplace to some people, as there is an increasingly sophisticated range of approaches to managing ethical engagement in research and applied projects, as this thematic edition illustrates. And, indeed, appropriately, codified ethical ‘standards’ are becoming increasingly localised with the development of locally and regionally specific resources. Nevertheless, even the most fundamental and pervasive of ethics concepts — ‘respect’ — has a normative load that carries with it a range of performative and moral implications. For instance, in many contexts in Indigenous Australia, respect is shown to Elders through being attentively silent and listening, not asking questions and not interrupting the unfolding of events. Indeed, asking questions can be a sign of disrespect. This epistemological position has clear implications for ethical research practice, as several of the papers in this volume illustrate, notably the contribution by Christie et al.

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Suggested Citation
Davis, M, Holcombe, S, 2010, Whose Ethics? Codifying and enacting ethics in research settings, Volume:2010, Journal Article, viewed 19 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3538.

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