A response to Martyn Hammersley ‘On the ethics of interviewing for discourse research’

Taylor, Stephanie (2014). A response to Martyn Hammersley ‘On the ethics of interviewing for discourse research’. Qualitative Research, 14(5) pp. 542–548.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794113503742

Abstract

In ‘On the ethics of interviewing for discourse research’ Martyn Hammersley sets out an ethical dilemma around informed consent for research interviews which is, he suggests, especially pertinent to discourse analytic research. A counter-argument might be that problems of informed consent are common to most, if not all, forms of social research, and this is in fact a conclusion which Hammersley eventually reaches. In this response, I suggest that a consideration of interviews and discourse analysis raises additional issues of general relevance for social researchers. These relate to assumptions about the research process and also the nature of a social subject, and therefore the relationship between participant and researcher. I challenge Hammersley’s definitions of discourse analysis and his claim that discourse analysts are guilty of ‘deceit or secrecy’ (p.13) in their dealings with their participants.

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