Advertisement

“On the Way to Calvary, I Lost My Way”: Navigating Ethical Quagmires in Community Psychology at the Margins

  • Haile MatutuEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Community Psychology book series (COMPSY)

Abstract

Community Psychology research that seeks to disrupt oppressive systems is fraught with ethical complexities, more so when it involves people with non-normative sexual/gender identities in contexts such as South Africa. The field demands researchers to negotiate the quagmires resulting from the inadequacy of ‘principlesim’ (Onuoha C, Bioethics Across Borders: An African Perspective. Uppsala University, Uppsala, 2007) and the ‘Regulatory Ethics’ favoured by institutional Research Ethics Committees to guide research (von Unger, H. Qualitative Inquiry, 22(2), 87–98, 2016). Similarly, research with marginalised populations that employs liberatory methodological approaches demands the creation of space for queer visibilities, and the privileging of local epistemes and subjectivities (Turker, A. Queer Visibilities: Space, identity and interaction in Cape Town. Chichester, West Sussex: John Willey & Sons, 2009). Given that the regulatory approach to ethics is problematised in Community Psychology scholarship for its inadequacy to respond to differential power dynamics; the history of research institutions vis-a-vis the communities we do research with, often experienced as epistemic violence; and the discordant conceptualisations of consent, beneficence, and harm – this chapter considers the position of ethics in research with marginalized populations as ongoing, critical, and dialogical. Reflecting on a study with non-gay identifying men who have sex with men, I embrace the decolonial feminist research agenda, seeing it as an opportunity to reconsider ethics in research and attend to the unjust erasure of marginalised sexual/gender subjectivities. The chapter frames the issue of ethics not from a perspective of a 'regulatory enterprise', but rather as intrinsically aligned to reflexivity; working against the affinity between research and epistemic violence. I discuss the means I adopted to navigate across epistemic (dis)articulations resulting from incompatible research frameworks and methods. To counter potential epistemic violence, I argue for a reflexive ethics anchored in decolonial feminist perspectives, and a methodological promiscuity that reconsiders ethics in practice.

Keywords

Principlist ethics Non-gay identifying men Reflexivity Epistemic violence Marginal subjectivity Decolonial feminist ethics 

References

  1. Cannella, G. S., & Manuelito, K. D. (2008). Feminisms from unthought locations. Indigenous worldviews, marginalised feminisms, and revisioning an anticolonial social science. In N. K. Denzin, Y. S. Lincoln, & L. T. Smith (Eds.), Handbook of critical and indigenous methodologies (pp. 45–59). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Carolissen, R., Rohleder, P., Bozalek, V., Swartz, L., & Leibowitz, B. (2010). “Community psychology is for poor, black people”: Pedagogy and teaching of community psychology in South Africa. Equity & Excellence in Education, 43(4), 495–510.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10665684.2010.516695.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Coimbra, J. L., Duckett, P., Fryer, D., Makkawi, I., Menezes, I., Seedat, M., & Walker, C. (2012). Rethinking community psychology: Critical insights. The Australian Community Psychologist, 24(2), 135–142.Google Scholar
  4. D’Augelli, A. R. (2000). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues. In J. Rappaport & E. Seidman (Eds.), Handbook of community psychology (pp. 944–947). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  5. Dahl, U. (2010). Femme on femme: Reflections on collaborative methods and queer femme-nist ethnography. In K. Browne & C. J. Nash (Eds.), Queer methods and methodologies: Intersecting queer theories and social science research. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. de Laine, M. (2000). Fieldwork, participation and practice: Ethics and dilemmas in qualitative research. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  7. Figueroa, A. M. (2014). La Carta de Responsabilidad. The problem of departure. In D. Paris & M. T. Winn (Eds.), Humanizing research. Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities (pp. 129–146). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Hammersley, M., & Traianou, A. (2012). Ethics in qualitative research: Controversies and contexts. London: SAGE Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) (2006). Form 223: Ethical rules – Psychology. Retrieved from https://www.hpcsa.co.za/downloads/conduct_ethics/rules/ethical_rules_psychology.pdf
  10. Jowett, A., Peel, E., & Shaw, R. (2011). Online interviewing in psychology: Reflections on the process. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 8(4), 354–369.  https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2010.500352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Juristzen, T. I., Grimen, H., & Heggen, K. (2011). Protecting vulnearable research articipants: A Faucault-inspired analysis of ethics committees. Nurse Ethics, 18(5), 640–650.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0969733011403807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kruger, M. & Horn, L (2014). In M. Kruger, P. Ndebele, & L. Horn (Eds.), Research Ethics in Africa: A Resource for Research Ethics Committees (pp. 1-2). Stellenbosch: SUN Media.Google Scholar
  13. Macklin, R. (1999). Against relativism: Cultural diversity and the search for ethical universals in medicine. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Manganyi, C. (1984). Making strange: Race science and Ethnopsychiatric discourses. African studies seminar paper. Johannesburg: University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  15. Meyrowitz, J. (1997). Shifting the worlds of strangers: Medium theory and changes in “them” versus “us”. Sociological Inquiry, 67(1), 59–71.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-682X.1997.tb00429.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Munro, A. J. (2011). Ethics and design research at South African higher education institutions: A prolegomenon. Conference proceedings. 6th International design education forum of Southern Africa.Google Scholar
  17. Mutenherwa, F., & Wassenaar, D. R. (2014). Ethical review of social and behavioural research in an African context. In M. Kruger, P. Ndebele, & L. Horn (Eds.), Research Ethics in Africa: A Resource for Research Ethics Committees (pp. 117–124). Stellenbosch: SUN Media.Google Scholar
  18. Newton, V. L. (2016). It’s good to be able to talk: An exploration of the complexities of participant and researcher relationships when conducting sensitive research. Women’s Studies International Forum, 61, 93–99.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2016.11.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Oliffe, J. L., & Mróz, L. W. (2005). Men interviewing men about health and illness: Ten lessons learned. The Journal of Men, Health & Gender, 2(2), 257–260.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmhg.2005.03.007.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Onuoha, C. (2007). Bioethics Across Borders: An African Perspective. Uppsala: Uppsala University.Google Scholar
  21. Paris, D., & Winn, M. T. (Eds.). (2014). Humanizing research: Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities. Los Angeles: SAGE.Google Scholar
  22. Redwood, S., & Todres, L. (2006). Exploring the ethical imagination: Conversation as practice versus committee as gatekeeper. Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Online), 7(2). http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/129/271.
  23. Ruti, M. (2017). The ethics of opting out: Queer theory’s defiant subjects. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Seedat, M., & Suffla, S. (2017). Community psychology and its (dis)contents, archival legaciesand decolonisation. South Africa Journal of Psychology, 47(4), 421–431.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0081246317741423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Silva, D. S., Goering, P. N., Jacobson, N., & Streiner, D. L. (2011). Off the beaten path: Conducting ethical pragmatic trials with marginalized populations. IRB: Ethics & Human Research, 33(3). Accessed from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1G1-268311529/off-the-beaten-path-conducting-ethical-pragmatic.
  26. Swartz, L. P., Gibson, K., & Gelman, T. (Eds.). (2002). Reflective practice: Psychodynamic ideas in the community. Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council.Google Scholar
  27. Schwalbe, M., & Wolkomir, M. (2001). The Masculine Self As Problem and Resource in Interview Studies of Men. Men and Masculinities, 4(1), 90–103. https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X01004001005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tomlinson, M., & Swartz, L. P. (2002). The “good enough” community: Power and knowledge in south African community psychology. In L. P. Swartz, K. Gibson, & T. Gelman (Eds.), Reflective practice: Psychodynamic ideas in the community (pp. 99–112). Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council.Google Scholar
  29. Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2014). R-words: Refusing research. In D. Paris & M. T. Winn (Eds.), Humanizing research. Decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities (pp. 223–247). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Turker, A. (2009). Queer Visibilities: Space, identity and interaction in Cape Town. Chichester, West Sussex: John Willey & Sons.Google Scholar
  31. van Wijk, E., & Harrison, T. (2013). Managing ethical problems in qualitative research involving vulnerable populations, using a pilot study. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 12, 570–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. von Unger, H. (2016). Reflexivity beyond regulations: Teaching research ethics and qualitative methods in Germany. Qualitative Inquiry, 22(2), 87–98.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800415620220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Walby, K. (2010). Interviews as encounters: Issues of sexuality and reflexivity when interviewing men about commercial same sex relations. Qualitative Research, 10(6), 639–657.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794110380525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Webber, V., & Brunger, F. (2018). Assessing risk to researchers: Using the case of sexuality research to inform research ethics board guidelines. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung, 19(3.) [31 paragraphs).  https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-19.3.3062.
  35. Wendler, R. (2012). Human subjects protection: A source for ethical service-learning practice. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 29–39.Google Scholar
  36. Wiles, R. (2013). What are qualitative research ethics? London: Blommsbury.Google Scholar
  37. Young, I. M. (2004). The ideal of community and the politics of difference. In C. Farrelly (Ed.), Contemporary political theory: A reader (pp. 195–204). London: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations