A balanced approach to ethics in ethnography

Emma Davidson*, Christina Mcmellon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Practices of reflexivity have encouraged youth researchers to discuss ethical dilemmas encountered in the field more openly. Whilst this has afforded a departure away from abstracted accounts of practice, published work tends to focus on self-oriented reflexivity and the emotional response of the ethnographer.Participants’ own emotions, and the emotional relationships between researcher and participant, have received less consideration. Not only can this result in adversarial, challenging or ‘controversial’ encounters being sanitised or even avoided in written accounts, but also the possible processual, individualor social benefits of a relational ethnography can be downplayed. This chapter uses cross-cultural ethnographic research involving young people in Laos,Southeast Asia and in Scotland, to expose some of the ethical dilemmas that can emerge from researcher–participant relationships. Reflecting and writing about these events deliberately places the researchers in a position of vulnerability by demonstrating the diverse ways emotional connections can shape and direct ethics in practice. The chapter concludes that a balanced approach to ethics, with attention to honesty and relationality, is key to realising a more considerate, authentic ethnographic account.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthics and Integrity in Research with Children and Young People
EditorsGrace Spencer
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781800434011
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Research Ethics and Integrity
PublisherEmerald Publishing


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