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Application and development of an ethical framework in ethnographic research at a government primary school in Ethiopia

Fox, Alison and Mitchell, Rafael (2017). Application and development of an ethical framework in ethnographic research at a government primary school in Ethiopia. In: ECER Annual Conference 2017, 22-25 Aug 2017, Copenhagen, Denmark, ECER annual conference 2017.

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Abstract

This article reviews the authors’ engagement with a research ethics framework (Stutchbury & Fox 2009) through the course of an ethnographic case study of the agendas, participation and influence of stakeholders at a government primary school in Ethiopia (Mitchell forthcoming). Fieldwork took place over an eight-month period in 2014, and involved participant observation in lessons and meetings, informant-led interviews, and the collection of institutional documents. Data collection focused on the meetings of various bodies, and the activities of a single class in Grades 6 and 7. As other research approaches involving fieldwork, ethnography requires negotiating ethical principles and power relations expressed in different texts and contexts: university ethics committees, professional codes, legal systems, and the social world of the research site. Universities are often privileged in these interactions, positioned in a paternalistic, gatekeeper role in relation to those in the research site. Yet the codified ethical policies of universities and professional bodies can provide a rather limited, Western and legalistic reading of social research ethics (Hammersley & Traianou 2012). The framework is a tool for making visible the ethical dimensions of research activities from the perspective of different ethical principles (deontological, consequential) and at different scales of social context (relational, ecological). It encourages thinking beyond mere compliance with institutional guidelines, promoting the kind of awareness and sensitivity which ethical cross-cultural research demands. The framework supports ethical analysis and decision-making across all stages of the research process, however the present discussion focuses on the planning and ethical approval stage. In the UK context, burgeoning ethical regulation based on psychological and biomedical research models can pose a challenge to researchers seeking approval for ethnographic research (Hammersley 2006; Hammersley & Atkinson 2007). Using the Ethiopian study as an example, the authors illustrate how the use of the framework for comprehensive ethical analysis helped to strengthen the proposal for ethnographic research.

References:
Hammersley, M. (2006) ‘Are ethics committees ethical?’, Qualitative Researcher 2, Spring. Available at: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/qualiti/QualitativeResearcher/QR_Issue2_06.pdf (Accessed 08/01/17)
Hammersley, M. & Atkinson, P. (2007) Ethnography Principles in Practice: Third Edition.
Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.
Hammersley, M. & Traianou, A. (2012) Ethics and Educational Research. Available at: http://www.bera.ac.uk/system/files/Ethics and Educational Research.pdf (Accessed 10/12/13).
Mitchell, R. (forthcoming) An ethnographic case study of the agendas, participation and influence of stakeholders at an urban government primary school in Tigray, Ethiopia. PhD thesis. University of Leicester.
Stutchbury, K. & Fox, A. (2009) ‘Ethics in educational research: introducing a methodological tool for effective ethical analysis’, Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(4), 489-504.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
Extra Information: Symposium Paper
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport > Education
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) > Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 50937
Depositing User: Alison Fox
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2017 08:14
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 10:56
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/50937
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