A second central tenet in relational ethics concerns the openness of the dialog between the researcher and the researched and of how that relationship evolves.
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In relational ethics, the ethicality of actions is not determined by the extent to which they follow any given ethical norms, or by how ethical dilemmas are solved on their grounds. Rather, being ethical means being attentive and responsive to the other people in the relationship Austin To realize this, researchers are not only called to question their assumptions and possible predispositions regarding the persons whose lives they want to investigate, but also to be open to how these people come to co-define the relationship and thereby the researcher.
Being ethical means, then, fundamentally being available, responsive and present to the other people in the relationship, including being ready to engage with their concerns. Rather, it highlights the need to be sensitive and inclusive in our dialogue with the people we want to study our being-in-the-world together with. Importantly, it also means that the dialogue is un-finalizing, open to what the other people bring to it, and does not seek to determine define or categorize them. This openness does not stop with the establishment of the research relationship, but continues as the relationship evolves during the research and beyond Ellis By highlighting the need to being open to the concerns and actions of those we research, or rather of those we do research together with, relational ethics calls the researcher to understand herself as a participant in the everyday life of the researched rather than as a spectator of their everyday life Maffesoli ; Brinkmann Hence, relational ethics acknowledges the related theoretical and ethical-political challenges that, among others, have long been pointed out by both practice philosophy and feminist philosophy Dewey ; Haraway ; Mol : researchers are, after all, not only in the world, they are of the world Barad ; also Ingold This then further requires the researcher to take the social worlds of the people who are part of the research, and their constitutive nature, seriously.
And how can we work on promoting them via our research? Should we promote them at all?
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If we see the ultimate goal of research being the production of new knowledge for the benefit of all humanity, other beings in the world and nature, is this enough to ensure that the common good is served? Given that what is good, when and for whom, is a contested terrain, is it possible for us as researchers to avoid reinserting instrumentalist conceptualizations?
More generally, relational ethics raises critical questions to any participatory research paradigm that works with a more relational notion of the researcher-researched and aims at ameliorating living conditions from within and for practice. How do particular places, histories, and moments in time shape what is right or wrong and for whom? Are these deeply moral questions not also relevant to more relational conceptualizations of psychology and psychological knowledge in general? The special section that this article introduces seeks to breathe new life into debates that deem these deeply moral questions to be relevant for the production of psychological knowledge, irrespective of the field from which this knowledge is produced.
Related contributions engage in theoretical and empirical discussions of research ethics and the moral dimension of psychology, as their interest departs from the everyday practice lived together by researchers and researched.
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They thus aim to develop theoretical concepts, as well as prototype guidelines and methods, that are relevant for the everyday life practice of the people the research is conducted with. Can, on such grounds, psychology avoid considering itself a moral science Brinkmann ; Tolman ? And can it do so without becoming instrumental? Their critique of how current consent practices are unreflectively shaped by ideals of persons as rational and autonomous decision-making agents calls for a more theoretically valid notion of consent.
This would need to take into account that decisions about research participation are always also situative, and that granting consent always affects a wider circle of people than those explicitly asked.
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Furthermore, they stress that within relational ethics, there is the need for heightened critical vigilance regarding who the research participants are in fact trusting and to what extent. Marginalized and racialized populations and perhaps everyone else, too have good reasons for doubting whether researchers truly have their well-being at heart, and current ideals of informed choice do not adequately address these doubts. Relational ethics, with its expanded notion of consent, can offer one possible prototype for productively addressing such shortcomings.
From this perspective, they discuss and critically scrutinize two prominent approaches for researching and promoting empathy and compassion in education. The authors also outline a novel approach for researching compassion in education that is responsive to postcolonial critique. This approach is based on a transformative onto-epistemology Stetsenko, , which brings about new ethical demands for researchers who seek not only to examine what is but also what is possible.
Within relational ethics, the consideration of who and in what ways our research efforts impact does not stop with just the research participants and their relations to the researcher and others. This ethical standpoint also needs to include the significance of and impact on other-than-human life, thus extending across the existential and analytical apparatuses that human actors are unavoidably enmeshed in.
Such a multi-visioned and multi-compassionate perspective would not only address possible selectiveness i. In his words, when engaging in research as a teleogenetic collaboration, there is a need to acknowledge the determinate in-determinacy of the collaborative effort, as well as the fundamental symmetry between all participants regarding their diverse perspectives on the world.
In other words, Chimirri points to how none of the participants nor the researchers have a privileged perspective on the phenomenon under study, and that the joint research effort should be treated as open-ended, i.http://tus-hetterscheidt.de/images/2020-09-23/1124.php
The qualitative research interview
Enveloped in a personal and yet generally relevant narrative about the relationship between Freeman and his mother after she was diagnosed with dementia, Freeman compels us to think about responsibility as fundamentally primordial, as pre-existing the relationship we have with the people whose lives we want to understand.
Given his own example, Freeman proposes letting the persons we study guide and direct the course of the investigation and in the data generated during the course of this shapeshifting relationship. Importantly, Freeman notes that this stance of being-led-by, rather than leading, others is a valuable ethical ideal, but an ideal paradoxically at odds with the common notions of what it means to do research.
This underlines the fact that the utilitarian search for a universalist ethical cookbook for the study of psychologically relevant phenomena such as subjectivity may be in vain, and that more process-oriented, immanently relational and situated alternatives must be developed for any field dealing with psychologically relevant phenomena and questions. While the initial contributions to this special section all share the commitment of theorizing research ethics and ethical decision-making as dependent on the concrete everyday circumstances of the researcher and the researched, and on how these play into the situated context of their relational encounter and connectedness, it also becomes evident how the conceptual minutiae of relational ethics deeply depend on the ontological, epistemological and methodological premises engrained in the respective theoretical tradition and perspective.
To what extent, for instance, non-human beings are to conceptually play into the researcher-researched relationship, or to what extent human beings are considered as interdependent individual beings, or instead as intradependently related collective becomings, and what this implies for knowledge creation, plays fundamentally into how situated relational ethics can be conceived of and put into psychological research practice. As these foundational conceptual questions cannot and arguably should never be resolved in an unambiguous way, given the complex and ever-developing character of everyday life and subjectivity, this introduction wishes to conclude by inviting readers to contribute to this special section with further perspectives and knowledge from psychology and other fields dealing with psychologically relevant phenomena and questions, i.
This research would seek to serve a common good and avoid instrumentalizing all those others that our research and existence fundamentally depend on, now and in the future. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. Skip to main content Skip to sections.
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Care of the old—A matter of ethics, organization and relationships
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