Ethics in Qualitative Research: Controversies and Contexts by Martyn Hammersley, Anna Traianou

By Martyn Hammersley, Anna Traianou

Ethics in Qualitative learn explores this box and provides a particular point of view; one who is at odds with the assumptions underpinning moral law, but in addition with the perspectives of many qualitative researchers this day. Martyn Hammersley and Anna Traianou emphasize the tough and arguable personality of moral concerns, and think about the philosophical assumptions concerned, the social contexts during which key moral rules come up, and their implications for study perform. The authors argue that the place to begin for any dialogue of study ethics has to be the values intrinsic to investigate, in particular the dedication to knowledge-production.

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The ethics of care comes closest to this, but while it begins from an account of what is appropriate in a certain type of role, namely in the relationship between mother and child, it assumes that the virtues central to this context can and should be extended to other areas of social life (Bowden 1997). There is a danger with this that the requirements of other, very different, roles may be obscured; in effect, the ethics of care privileges one type of role or context over others. 1 The importance of social roles for ethics was recognised many years ago by Dorothy Emmet in her book Rules, Roles and Relations, but has been rather neglected 1 The notion of authenticity is, of course, central to existentialist ethics; see McBride (1997) and Guignon (2004).

Where the former seems to exclude any following of general substantive rules about what ought and ought not to be done, in favour of decisions that calculate the relevant costs and benefits in relation to the situation concerned, the latter emphasises the importance of following 5 For a discussion of cost–benefit analysis in relation to research ethics, see Diener and Crandall (1978: 24–6). 6 For a history of natural rights theories, see Tuck (1979). indd 23 07/03/2012 10:07:10 AM • • • ETHICS IN QUALITATIVE RESEARCH • • • rules, albeit of the right kind.

It was recognised from early on that the seriousness, and even the wrongness, of the same act, such as killing someone, could vary according to circumstances; for example, whether it was premeditated or done in the heat of the moment, whether it was carried out in self-defence or as aggression, whether it was motivated by a desire for personal gain or was done in support of an important ideal, and so on. Underpinning this casuistical tradition was the idea that reasonable judgments can be made, despite the multifarious nature of cases, if proper attention is given to relevant similarities and differences among cases.

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