Article

Reflexive Research Ethics for Environmental Health and Justice: Academics and Movement-Building.

Sociology Department, Brown University, Providence, USA.
Social movement studies 04/2012; 11(2):161-176. DOI: 10.1080/14742837.2012.664898
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Community-engaged research on environmental problems has reshaped researcher-participant relationships, academic-community interaction, and the role of community partners in human subjects protection and ethical oversight. We draw on our own and others' research collaborations with environmental health and justice social movement organizations to discuss the ethical concerns that emerge in community-engaged research. In this paper we introduce the concept of reflexive research ethics: ethical guidelines and decision-making principles that depend on continual reflexivity concerning the relationships between researchers and participants. Seeing ethics in this way can help scientists conduct research that simultaneously achieves a high level of professional conduct and protects the rights, well-being, and autonomy of both researchers and the multiple publics affected by research. We highlight our research with community-based organizations in Massachusetts, California, and Alaska, and discuss the potential impacts of the community or social movement on the research process and the potential impacts of research on community or social movement goals. We conclude by discussing ways in which the ethical concerns that surface in community-engaged research have led to advances in ethical research practices. This type of work raises ethical questions whose answers are broadly relevant for social movement, environmental, and public health scholars.

0 Followers
 · 
139 Views
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: For biomedical research in which the only involvement of the human subject is the provision of tissue or organ samples, a blanket consent, i.e., consent to use the tissue for anything researchers wish to do, is considered by many to be adequate for legal and Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements. Alternatively, a detailed informed consent provides patients or study participants with more thorough information about the research topic. We document here the beliefs and opinions of the research staff on informed consent and the discussion-based reflexive research ethics process that we employed in our fetal tissue xenotransplantion research on the impact of environmental exposures on fetal development. Reflexive research ethics entails the continued adjustment of research practice according to relational and reflexive understandings of what might be beneficent or harmful. Such reflexivity is not solely an individual endeavor, but rather a collective relationship between all actors in the research process.
    Accountability in Research Policies and Quality Assurance 11/2012; 19(6):344-69. DOI:10.1080/08989621.2012.728910 · 0.72 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This article reviews the personal and professional processes of developing an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complex issues of environmental health in their community, political-economic, social science, and scientific contexts. This interdisciplinary approach includes a synthesis of research, policy work, and advocacy. To examine multiple forms of interdisciplinarity, I examine pathways of integrating medical and environmental sociology via three challenges to the boundaries of traditional research: (1) crossing the boundaries of medical and environmental sociology, (2) linking social science and environmental health science, and (3) crossing the boundary of research and advocacy. These boundary crossings are discussed in light of conceptual and theoretical developments of popular epidemiology, contested illnesses, and health social movements. This interdisciplinary work offers a more comprehensive sociological lens for understanding complex problems and a practical ability to join with scientists, activists, and officials to meet public health needs for amelioration and prevention of environmental health threats.
    Journal of Health and Social Behavior 04/2013; 54(2). DOI:10.1177/0022146513484473 · 2.72 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Science on emerging environmental health threats involves numerous ethical concerns related to scientific uncertainty about conducting, interpreting, communicating, and acting upon research findings, but the connections between ethical decision making and scientific uncertainty are under-studied in sociology. Under conditions of scientific uncertainty, researcher conduct is not fully prescribed by formal ethical codes of conduct, increasing the importance of ethical reflection by researchers, conflicts over research conduct, and reliance on informal ethical standards. This paper draws on in-depth interviews with scientists, regulators, activists, industry representatives, and fire safety experts to explore ethical considerations of moments of uncertainty using a case study of flame retardants, chemicals widely used in consumer products with potential negative health and environmental impacts. We focus on the uncertainty that arises in measuring people's exposure to these chemicals through testing of their personal environments or bodies. We identify four sources of ethical concerns relevant to scientific uncertainty: 1) choosing research questions or methods, 2) interpreting scientific results, 3) communicating results to multiple publics, and 4) applying results for policy-making. This research offers lessons about professional conduct under conditions of uncertainty, ethical research practice, democratization of scientific knowledge, and science's impact on policy.
    Sociological Forum 09/2013; 28(3). DOI:10.1111/socf.12034 · 0.91 Impact Factor

Preview

Download
3 Downloads
Available from