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For the greater good? Ethical reflections on interviewing the rich and poor in qualitative research

Summers, Kate ORCID: 0000-0001-9964-0259 (2020) For the greater good? Ethical reflections on interviewing the rich and poor in qualitative research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 23 (5). 593 - 602. ISSN 1364-5579

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Identification Number: 10.1080/13645579.2020.1766772


There is increasing emphasis on understanding economic advantage alongside disadvantage–on studying both ‘poverty’ and ‘riches’. This trend prompts and requires new ethical reflection. I argue that in qualitative interview research, a clearer distinction needs to be drawn between ethical commitments to individual research participants, and the group(s) to which they belong. This distinction is often elided in ethics guidelines and when researchers discuss their own work. Attending to the distinction highlights a symmetrical ethical dilemma: researchers studying disadvantage are often motivated to further the interests of the wider group to which their participants belong, yet the study itself risks eliciting or exacerbating negative experiences or identities amongst participants themselves. Conversely, the process of studying advantage frequently bolsters the positive identities or experiences of individual study participants, even as the research findings challenge or subvert the interests of their group.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2020 09:24
Last Modified: 30 May 2024 17:51

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