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Undoing Ethics: Rethinking Practice in Online Research

Undoing Ethics: Rethinking Practice in Online Research

Book Description

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 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 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 the continuities and discontinuities between both and online media-fan activity, and social activity in on and offline environments.

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