Ethics and Consent in the (Sociotechnical) Wild [BOOK CHAPTER]
Ewa Luger, Tom Rodden
Into the Wild: Beyond the Design Research Lab, 4 July 2019; pp 149-172
When we speak of ethics, we refer to the articulation of moral principles intended to promote societal and individual good. Derived of moral philosophy, they describe the codified process by which we determine how and why specific human conduct might be deemed right or wrong, good or bad. This is especially critical in the context of human-subjects research, where ill-considered interventions may otherwise result in harm to participants. Socio-technical studies conducted in naturalistic settings, what HCI terms ‘in the wild’ research, present some tensions with our current approaches to ethical practice. In particular, the ways in which we inform, secure and support participant consent. This chapter explores these emerging tensions and, through the voices of interviewed experts, highlights some of the issues arising around user consent and sociotechnical systems.
Editor’s note: Emery’s (1969) sociotechnical systems model of organizations speaks to when the technological, social, and managerial components interact. The technological system includes all the equipment, infrastructure, and technology in the workplace. The social system includes cultural and other diverse groups and individuals, and the social processes and informal channels used to communicate and negotiate in the workplace. The managerial system is concerned with power and authority within the organization, including decision making and formal lines of communication.