Hierarchies of knowledge: Analyzing inequalities within the social work ethnographic research process as ethical notions in knowledge production

Hill, Cath and Mikkonen, Enni and Laitinen, Merja (2016) Hierarchies of knowledge: Analyzing inequalities within the social work ethnographic research process as ethical notions in knowledge production. Qualitative Social Work, 16 (4). ISSN 1473-3250

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Abstract

This article explores the link between ethical issues and inequalities in social work, ethnographic research processes. It suggests that, although the issue of inequality in social work research has been well documented, it has not been analyzed sufficiently as an ethically important factor in the building and maintaining of research relationships and consequently in the production of knowledge. Furthermore, it discusses how equality and social justice can be promoted in social work research, at both a practical and ideological level, and it aims to investigate how socioeconomic and gender inequalities between the researcher and research participants can lead to epistemological inequalities and can affect knowledge production from an ethical perspective. The analysis in this piece is based on six months of ethnographic fieldwork with two female communities in rural Nepal from 2012 to 2013 and employs a systematic, qualitative analysis of this specific research process. It identifies five ethical notions and their connections to the knowledge production process: “recognizing hidden and silenced knowledge,” “reflecting on the limits of understanding and knowing,” “understanding social hierarchies among research participants,” “understanding gender inequality and patriarchal restrictions,” and “producing good” in the research process. It illustrates that research relationships are characterized by different modalities of power and hierarchy and advocates for reflexivity in the research process, self-reflexivity of the researcher, and the recognition of ethical responsibility. While this study relates to a specific context, parallels can be drawn and related to general social work research.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Qualitative Social Work
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3300/3306
Subjects:
ID Code:
181543
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
05 Jan 2023 12:50
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
05 Jan 2023 12:50