'That is NOT What's Happening at Horizon!': Ethics and Misrepresenting Knowledge in Text

Jul. 15, 2010

Source: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Volume 23, Issue 4
(July 2010), pages 435 – 448.

This article analyzes the ethically important moments that helped build, then break, and then negotiate the relationship between researchers and schools during an ethnographic-type study. The study was conducted by the team of researchers from a prominent private university.

The author posits that the researchers' unskilled approach culminated in producing written representations of the schools that were ethically problematic. To quote one school: 'That is NOT what's happening at Horizon!'

Guided by simplistic understandings of procedures, rather than by articulated moral principles, the researchers were unable to scrutinize and interrogate their data in light of the context from which the data were collected.
The author argues that the researchers failed to examine reflexively the knowledge they produced in their written representations.

The author's critique uses a framework that counters harm with benefit and authority with respect, drawing on both consequential and non-consequential ethical theories, and emphasizes an ethic of care.

Updated: Feb. 24, 2011