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LRDG: Critical ethnographic research of literacy practices used in youth community-based organisations in Québec: what ethical concerns?

Date: 5 March 2013 Time: 1 - 2 pm

Venue: C89, County South

Virginie Thériault, Lancaster University, will be speaking on:

General ethical principles such as informed consent, confidentiality, participants' physical or psychological well-being and the absence of preventable harm should be respected in any research project. However, those guidelines cannot help researchers in specific situations, when they face a difficult situation in the fieldsite: this is what is called an 'ethical dilemma' (Goodwin, et al., 2003) or 'everyday ethics' (Guillemin & Heggen, 2009).

However, what are the ethical implications of doing qualitative research with vulnerable groups of people considering that they are "potentially vulnerable on a variety of levels, because of their marginalized social, political and economic position." (Laverick, 2010, p.76)? Moreover, the voices of vulnerable or marginalized groups are generally not heard in society and often they have little power in the research process (Pyett, 2002).

In this presentation, I will discuss my own experience as a young researcher doing a critical ethnographic study in two organisations working with young people with low levels of formal education in Québec (Canada). At each site, I conducted regular observations over a period of two months, focusing on group activities. During that period, I experienced various ethical dilemmas that challenged my role and position towards the participants. In my talk, I will expose some of the ethical dilemmas encountered in the two fieldsites. I will explain how I dealt with them and what their implications for my study are.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Associated staff: Uta Papen

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Education, Ethics, Ethnography, Youth


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