Hella von Unger: Ethical Reflexivity as Research Practice. [Abstract]

In debates on methodology, reflexivity describes an analytical practice whereby researchers take the context of the research situation into account, including the influence researchers have on the study and its results. Following constructivist epistemological principles, reflexivity is a required component of qualitative methodologies. There are various approaches as to what aspects of the researcher and the situation to consider – and how to go about them. In this paper, I propose that researcher reflexivity not only serves analytical, but also ethical purposes. Using an example from a qualitative organizational study, I show that field experiences can be both an insightful datum for analysis as well as grounds for “ethics in practice.” Ethical reflexivity involves considering the social and political implications of research, avoiding harm, and ensuring participants’ rights while striving for accountability in pursuing scientific goals. These multiple tasks create tension and contradictory demands on researchers, which are not easily resolved. Yet the way forward lies in addressing the challenges and seeking solutions not only with scientific peers, but also in dialogue with actors in the field.

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