Ethical Research Involving Children

‘Going deep’ and ‘giving back’: Strategies for exceeding ethical expectations when researching amongst vulnerable youth.

Swartz, S. (2011). ‘Going deep’ and ‘giving back’: Strategies for exceeding ethical expectations when researching amongst vulnerable youth. Qualitative Research, 11(1), pp. 47-68.

Abstract: This article interrogates how research amongst vulnerable populations, especially youth, may be designed and implemented to exceed the usual standards of research ethics. It describes the dual aims of ethical research within an emancipatory framework as ‘going deep’ through utilizing ‘an ethics of parallax perspectives’; and ‘giving back’ by employing an ‘intentional ethics of reciprocation’. It offers a package of six additional ethical strategies, which may be combined in various permutations in order to achieve these ends. These strategies include choosing appropriate research activities; deliberately building relationships with research participants; conveying researcher subjectivity; developing mutuality and flattening the power gradient; considering how language is used and representations are made; and planning ‘research-as-intervention’. Drawing on a multi-layered ethnographic study of the moral understandings of a group of impoverished South African township youth, the article offers insight into how these ethical strategies address vulnerability and emancipation in practice, including the multiple ethical dilemmas they raise. (The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Qualitative Research, 11/1, 02/2011 by SAGE Publications, Ltd., All rights reserved. © Sage Publications Ltd.)

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