'Going deep' and 'giving back': strategies for exceeding ethical expectations when researching amongst vulnerable youth

SOURCE: Qualitative Research
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2011
TITLE AUTHOR(S): S.Swartz
KEYWORDS: ETHICS, ETHNOGRAPHY, MORALITY, POVERTY, YOUTH
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 6666

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.

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.