Doing Biographical Research — Ethical Concerns in Changing Social Contexts
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University of Lodz
Publication date: 2018-09-26
Polish Sociological Review 2018;203(3)
Rapid changes in different spheres of social life (especially the commercialization of science, the digitalization of data, and the explosion of social media) have recently influenced definitions of research situations and approaches to findings in the social sciences. While various new standards from the natural sciences have been implemented, research situations have also been shaped by circumstances related to wider cultural changes, that is, by a sort of a cultural shift, especially in the sphere of new media communication. All these phenomena have revived the discussion of ethical issues. This article analyzes the current methodological status of biographical research as part of a professional ethic construed as the systematic exploration of the methodology used bybiographical researchers and the need for constant reflection on the research process. The article is devoted to different areas that may be associated with ethical concerns: the relationship between a researcher and an interviewee; problems related to the consequences of digital archiving; the proper style of doing research when there are strong expectations that the results will be disseminated; the possible consequences of using informed consent with the illusory expectation that it removes ethical dilemmas; and the practices leading to a professionalization of ethics.
The article is written with the support of the project no 2013/09/B/HS6/031000 financed by National Science Centre Poland.
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