The amoral academy? A critical discussion of research ethics in the neo-liberal university

Busher, Hugh and Fox, Alison (2020). The amoral academy? A critical discussion of research ethics in the neo-liberal university. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 53(5) pp. 469–478.



This paper challenges current dominant thinking in Universities about the ethical appraisal of research studies in the Social Sciences. It considers this to be founded on unjustifiable and inappropriate principles, the origins of which are presented before discussing alternative, more inclusive and ethically defensible approaches. The latter are based on dialogic processes to sustain respectful and empowering ethical reviews which appreciate the situated nature of research. The empirical evidence for this comes from papers about ethnographic studies with children and adults in various educational spaces in Western Europe, originally a symposium on the practice of ethics in educational ethnography at ECER, 2017, now forming a book published by Routledge, 2019. The dialogic processes help researchers to carry out culturally-appropriate research with the demonstrable ethical integrity that participants and stakeholders reasonably expect. The authors argue that currently risk-averse Universities need to change their research cultures to support all research methodologies and fieldwork practices that have ethical integrity and create valuable research that is socially beneficial, enhancing their lustre.

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