Ethnography, Ethics and Ownership of Data

Russell, L. (Speaker), Ruth Barley (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Description

All research has been subject to an increase in ethical regulation over the past decade or so (Hammersley, 2009). This phenomenon has particular implications for ethnography given its intimate and receptive nature. This paper looks specifically at the ownership of data and explores the institutional, the ethnographers and the legal tensions that may come into play when managing data within and beyond the field. Two expert ethnographers working with children and young people draw upon their work to reveal how issues of data ownership can shift and be a source of tension and working power dynamics. The ethnographer requires particular autonomy and expertise while managing ethics soundly in situ to work within the messiness and unpredictability of participants’ everyday lives.
Design/methodology/approach; Two expert ethnographers working with children and young people draw upon their work with children and young people to reveal how issues of data ownership can shift and be a source of tension and working power dynamics.
The first ethnography is a Leverhulme Funded project that explored the lives of 24 NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) young people as they moved in and out of employment and education. The main corpus of data includes over 280 hours observation data and 78 interviews over a three year period (2010-2013). This paper reflects on how the ethnographer questioned her own moral and researcher’s stance in light of fieldwork notes that could have been potentially used in a child custody case.
The second draws on two stages of a longitudinal ethnography exploring identity and peer friendships with a multi-ethnic school in the north of England. This article incorporates data relating to armed militias from North and Sub-Saharan Africa from two periods of fieldwork with the same group of children when they were in their Reception year (2010-11) and then again in Year 4 (2014-15). The ethnographer reflects on these data extracts and the impact of publishing them in relation to the UK government’s Prevent Strategy. Implications; Most of the literature regarding ethics deals with the management of ethical review boards (Dennis, 2009). This paper takes a reflective view on how ethics works in terms of data ownership in practice for the ethnographer working with children and young people by asking how informed consent can actually be when outside organisations may have the authority to sub-peona fieldnote data.
Period13 Sep 2017
Held atOxford Ethnography and Education Conference 2017
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational