Ethics in Qualitative Research: 'Vulnerability', Citizenship and Human Rights

Ethics and Social Welfare 6 (1):2-17 (2012)
This paper poses questions regarding the ethical prioritisation in qualitative research studies on assessing a person's or a group's fitness to provide informed consent, arguing that this may have unwanted as well as desirable consequences, particularly in relation to rights of citizenship for socially marginalised populations who tend to be labelled vulnerable. Drawing on three theoretical perspectives (Arendt, Honneth and Bourdieu), it is suggested that the emphasis placed on a research participant's capacity to provide informed consent cannot be regarded solely as a protective measure for ?vulnerable? groups, but is also bound up with their social positioning as socially ?deficient? according to liberal (classical and neo-liberal) models of citizenship. Participation in a qualitative study can be seen as a dimension of the civil and human right to freedom of expression, and this can be particularly important for those labelled vulnerable as freedom of expression is a precondition for recognition and parity of status. Nevertheless, the importance of informed consent is not rejected; instead, it is posited that the protective rights accorded to vulnerable groups in qualitative research need to be considered alongside other human goods, such as the promotion of voice, agency and active citizenship
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DOI 10.1080/17496535.2011.591811
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References found in this work BETA
Amartya Sen (2009). The Idea of Justice. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
John Rawls (2009/2005). A Theory of Justice. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Philosophy and Rhetoric. Oxford University Press 133-135.

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