Lingering Ethical Tensions in Narrative Inquiry

Authored by: Will van den Hoonaard

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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Those using narrative approaches frequently find themselves in a moral fix with traditional ethical practices being called into question by mandatory research ethics policies (see Hammersley, 2009; Israel & Hay, 2006). They may also struggle with fears around “betraying” research participants because the story that is eventually created and retold is not always the same story that research participants have entrusted to them. This chapter hopes to sketch some of the ways that researchers can handle this ethical matrix. Ethical tensions will linger, but they might prove, in the end, to be a powerful source of reflexion about narrative research practice. And it is worth noting at this point that narrative researchers have traditionally been particularly, even exceptionally, concerned about the welfare of research participants.

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