Edited by Daniel Wheatley
Chapter 6: Research ethics and the “elephant in the room”: encountering violence in fieldwork concerning unpaid labour
The chapter explores violence, both systemic and incidental, that a social researcher may encounter during field research. The questions and anonymised cases used in this chapter stem from field research concerning public spaces of work related to, or organized by, social movements and grassroots initiatives. This work is usually defined as “unpaid” or “volunteering”, but also encapsulates work performed within arrangements of collective production beyond the paid–unpaid binary. Feminist and decolonial approaches are used to analyse ethical questions related to the stance a researcher may employ in social contexts where structural violence already exists (a patriarchal–racist–capitalist society) and where new incidents of physical or psychological violence may emerge and come to the researcher’s attention. The chapter employs the stance that when violence exists in or against a community this is a research finding that affects the integrity of the researcher, of the research, and the well-being of focus communities.
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