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Undoing Ethics

Over the past decade, researchers from different academic disciplines have paid increasing attention to the productivity of online environments. The ethical underpinnings of research in such settings, however, remain contested and often controversial. As traditional debates have been reignited by the need to respond to the particular characteristics of technologically-mediated environments, researchers have entered anew key debates regarding the moral, legal and regulative aspects of research ethics. A growing trend in this work has been towards the promotion of localized and contextualized research ethics - the suggestion that the decisions we make should be informed by the nature of the environments we study and the habits/expectations of participants within them. Despite such moves, the relationship between the empirical, theoretical and methodological aspects of Internet research ethics remains underexplored. Drawing from ongoing sociological research into the practices of media cultures online, this book provides a timely and distinctive response to this need. This book explores the relationship between the production of ethical stances in two different contexts: the ethical manoeuvring of participants within online media-fan communities and the ethical decision-making of the author as Internet researcher, manoeuvring, as it were, in the academic community. In doing so, the book outlines a reflexive framework for exploring research ethics at different levels of analysis; the empirical settings of research; the theoretical perspectives which inform the researcher's objectification of the research settings; and the methodological issues and practical decisions that constitute the activity as research. The analysis of these different levels develops a way of thinking about ethical practice in terms of stabilizing and destabilizing moves within and between research and researched communities. The analysis emphasizes the continuities and discontinuities between both research practice and online media-fan activity, and social activity in on and offline environments.
Product Details

Table of Contents

- Preface.- Ethical Stances in Research.- The Achievement of Research Ethics.- Public or Private?-Text or Subjects?- Unstable Relations.- Undoing Ethics.

About the Author

Natasha Whiteman is a member of the Department of Media and Communication, University of Leicester. Her PhD thesis was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Her publications include "Control and Contingency: Maintaining Ethical Stances in Research" (2010) International Journal of Internet Research Ethics; "The De/stabilisation of Identity in Online Fan Communities" (2009) Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies; "Learning at the Cutting Edge? Help-seeking and Status in Online Videogame Fan Sites" (2008) Information Technology, Education and Society; and "(Dis)possessing Literacy and Literature: Gourmandising in Gibsonbarlowville" (2004) in Andrew Brown and Niki Davis eds. The World Yearbook of Education 2004: Digital Technology, Communities and Education, Routledge: London (with Soh-Young Chung and Paul Dowling).


From the reviews:"The author ... uses this book to examine `some of the challenges that researchers may face when researching online activity and the ways that existing guidance on research ethics can inform our responses to these'. ... She puts her case clearly and objectively, and places before her readers a set of arguments that enlighten and challenge. ... I would urge all social scientists to read what Dr Whiteman has to say about the ethics of research practice - it would be time well spent." (Maryam Nazari and G. E. Gorman, Online Information Review OIR, Vol. 36 (5), 2012)

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