‘To say no wasn’t something we could do’; Reflexive accounts and negotiations of the ethical practice of informed consent during the research process and beyond [BOOK CHAPTER]

‘To say no wasn’t something we could do’; Reflexive accounts and negotiations of the ethical practice of informed consent during the research process and beyond [BOOK CHAPTER]
Johanna Sixtensson
The Politics and Ethics of Representation in Qualitative Research, Routledge, 2021
Abstract
In this chapter, the implementation of the formal ethical principle of informed consent in the research process is discussed. By analyzing encounters and exchanges with a young research participant, both during the fieldwork and after publication, the text examines the meaning of the concept of consent and discloses complexities and ambivalences inherent in asking for and giving consent. It shows that giving consent or ‘saying no’ is a complicated practice that should not be reduced to a single act or signature on a consent form. Rather, consenting to participate in research is an open-ended, situated, ambivalent and not necessarily verbal process. It might also have an impact on participants beyond the actual research process: for instance, when faced with the researcher’s representations of personal interview accounts in research reports. The text captures the relationality that exists between researchers and those we research, especially regarding how dependent researchers are on participants’ consent, their acts and the quality of the empirical material that participants ‘generate’.

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