Seduction of Ethics: Transforming the Social Sciences

By Will C. van den Hoonaard

© 2011

Formal research-ethics committees in Canada now function as an industry, costing over thirty-five million dollars annually. The Seduction of Ethics argues that while ethics codes are alluring to the public, they fuel moral panic and increase demands for institutional accountability. Will C. van den Hoonaard explores the research-ethics review process itself by analysing the moral cosmology and practices of ethics committees regarding research and researchers.

The Seduction of Ethics also investigates how researchers have tailored their approaches in response to technical demands — leading social science disciplines to resemble each other more closely and lose the richness of their research. Van den Hoonaard reveals an idiosyncratic and inconsistent world in which researchers employ particular strategies of avoidance or partial or full compliance as they seek approval from ethics committees.

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  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 392 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.2in x 9.3in
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  • PUBLISHED JUN 2011

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Quick Overview

Van den Hoonaard reveals an idiosyncratic and inconsistent world in which researchers employ particular strategies of avoidance or partial or full compliance as they seek approval from ethics committees.

Seduction of Ethics: Transforming the Social Sciences

By Will C. van den Hoonaard

© 2011

Formal research-ethics committees in Canada now function as an industry, costing over thirty-five million dollars annually. The Seduction of Ethics argues that while ethics codes are alluring to the public, they fuel moral panic and increase demands for institutional accountability. Will C. van den Hoonaard explores the research-ethics review process itself by analysing the moral cosmology and practices of ethics committees regarding research and researchers.

The Seduction of Ethics also investigates how researchers have tailored their approaches in response to technical demands — leading social science disciplines to resemble each other more closely and lose the richness of their research. Van den Hoonaard reveals an idiosyncratic and inconsistent world in which researchers employ particular strategies of avoidance or partial or full compliance as they seek approval from ethics committees.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 392 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.2in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    The Seduction of Ethics is a powerful, combined-arms assault on the system of ethics review of the social sciences.’
    Zachary M. Schrag
    Contemporary Sociology; vol 41:05:2012

    ‘Van den Hoonaard offers a remarkable study from the methodological point of view… Hoonaard’s contribution to the debate on approaches to ethical governance in the social sciences demarcates a new stage.’


    Igor Gontcharov
    Transnational legal Theory, vol 4:01:2013

    ‘The Seduction of Ethics  is an easily-read volume suitable for students, professionals, and even lay readers…The logic is flawless, the data are compelling, and – above-all the reader is left with a sense that things can be changed.’


    Jim Thomas
    Symbolic Interaction, Online - February 2014

    ‘Seduction of Ethics is grounded in a solid theoretical and conceptual framework. The logic is flawless, the data are compelling, and above all the reader is left with a sense that things can be changed.’
    Jim Thomas
    Symbolic Interaction, vol 37:02:2014

    The Seduction of Ethics is a significant work on a timely, important topic — namely, the nature, outcomes, and unintended consequences of social science research ethics reviews. Will C. van den Hoonaard uses evidence-based analysis to move dialogue on these concerns from the informal to the formal, which is important to the ongoing development of research management and oversight processes. The Seduction of Ethics provides much for researchers and those participating in and providing support for research ethics boards to chew on.’
    Tim McTiernan, Assistant Vice-President, Government, Institutional, and Community Relations, University of Toronto; formerly Assistant Vice-President, Research and Executive Director, The Innovations Group, University of Toronto

    ‘Sociologist and ethnographer Will C. van den Hoonaard has contributed immensely to social science as a researcher, teacher, and participant in the drafting of ethical guidelines for governing social research. When such an eminent sociologist invites examination of ethics and regulations of social research, what better way to do so than to present an ethnography of problematic decisions by ethics committees? This book will be an invaluable resource to research administrators, ethics committees, social researchers, and commissions seeking to find ways to revise the regulatory structure in a way that is fair and conducive to the conduct of social research.’
    Joan Sieber, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics
  • Author Information

    Will C. van den Hoonaard is a professor emeritus in the Department of Sociology at the University of New Brunswick.
  • Table of contents

    Preface

    Acknowledgments

    Figures and Tables

    1. INTRODUCTION
      Premise of The Seduction of Ethics
      Ignorance and Scholarship
      The Scholarship on the Metabolism of Research-Ethics Review
      Conceptual Scheme
      Research Methods  
      Outline of The Seduction of Ethics
    2. AN ARCHEOLOGY OF RESEARCH-ETHICS REVIEW
      Outside the Ethics Regime: What Drives the System of Ethics Review? 
      Inside the System: Institutionalization of Research-Ethics Review
    3. THE CRITICISMS OF RESEARCH-ETHICS REVIEW
      Does the Ethics Regime Offer an Inappropriate Model for Social Science Research?
      Is Research Ethics Strangling Legitimate Research?
      Does Ethics Review Curtail Academic Freedom?
      Are Ethics Committees Bureaucracies?
      Does Ethics Review Develop and Maintain the Hegemony of Ethics Committees?
      Attempts to Negotiate the Two Worlds and Transcend the Criticisms: The Perspectives of Ethics Committees
    4. WHAT IS THE NORMATIVE ETHICS FRAMEWORK FOR SOCIAL RESEARCHERS?  
      The ‘Subject’ in International and National Research-Ethics Codes
      Bursting the Contemporary Ethics Bubble: Three Case Studies 
    5. STRUCTURE AND COMPOSITION OF RESEARCH-ETHICS COMMITTEES
      Ethics Committees as Part of the University
      Membership
      Jurisdictional Power and Independence
      Workload
    6. THE MORAL COSMOLOGY OF THE ETHICS-REVIEW WORLD
      About Themselves
      About Researchers
      About Research Participants
    7. PROCEDURAL ROUTINES: THE APPLICATION FORM AND THE CONSENT FORM
      The Application Form
      The Consent Form  
    8. THE MEETING: MAKING AGENDAS AND DECISIONS
      Attendance and Membership
      The Career of the Agenda
      Paradigms and Perspectives that Shape the Conversation about Ethics
      Making Decisions without Principles
    9. AN IDIOSYNCRATIC AND INCONSISTENTWORLD: COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN REBS AND RESEARCHERS
      Interpretation as the Basis of Idiosyncrasies and Inconsistencies
      Communications to Researchers/Language of (Dis)approval
      Content
      Language
      REB Communications inside the Larger Context of the Ethics Regime
    10. THE UNDERLIFE OF RESEARCH-ETHICS REVIEW: PREPARING AN APPLICATION
      The ‘Hurt Perspective’
      The Researcher’s Moral Career
      Warming up (or Not) to Submitting the Proposal
      Preparing for the ‘News’
    11. SECONDARY ADJUSTMENTS BY RESEARCHERS
      Reactions by Researchers to Ethics Reviews
      Applying Secondary Adjustments
      The Social Situation of Students in the Ethics-Review Process
    12. THE BELEAGUERED METHODS
      General Considerations about Redirecting Research
      The Declining Use of Particular Methods
    13. ON THEORY, TOPICS, AND FAVOURED  METHODS

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