Presenting and representing others: towards an ethics of engagement

Pickering, L. and Kara, H. (2017) Presenting and representing others: towards an ethics of engagement. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20(3), pp. 299-309. (doi:10.1080/13645579.2017.1287875)

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Abstract

The ethics of research representation are rarely discussed. Yet representation can have a significant impact on research participants and audiences. This paper draws on some of the limited body of accounts of ethical challenges experienced in representing others in qualitative research. These accounts make clear that researchers often have to choose between ‘competing goods’ when representing others, such as participant control over what is presented and how, researchers’ ‘interpretive authority’, and how to represent participants’ speech. These decisions frequently involve researchers choosing between ‘literal’ (empirical, evidence-based) and ‘real’ (authentic, experiential) truths. To resolve these dilemmas, some researchers are turning to creative methods of representation, such as poems, songs, plays and dance. Like all forms of representation, these methods require compromise: in particular, some detail, depth, or location may be sacrificed in return for accessible engagement with participants and wider audiences. Conversely, traditional methods of presentation may sacrifice some scope for engagement and accessibility in return for greater detail and depth. We argue that such sacrifices are a necessary component of all forms of qualitative representation and consequently require a reflexive approach to choices about representation. It is this reflexive approach which we argue constitutes an ethics of engagement.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pickering, Dr Lucy
Authors: Pickering, L., and Kara, H.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:International Journal of Social Research Methodology
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1364-5579
ISSN (Online):1464-5300
Published Online:14 February 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
First Published:First published in International Journal of Social Research Methodology 20(3):299-309
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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