Den etnografiskt okänsliga etikgranskningen
Applying for ethical review is common among many social scientists today, even for projects very far from the bio-medical origins and design of the review process. This article critically discusses the clash between ethical review and ethnography in a Swedish context. It is argued that today’s committee-driven and form-based review fits poorly with research built on flexible, pragmatic and emergent fieldwork, where the researchers neither can display a linear design nor execute control over their fields. Ethical boards presume a definite sample, predictable procedures for information and consent, and a distant relation to research subjects. In contrast, ethnographers typically work in opposite directions, facing more subtle ethical dilemmas, which the committees do not receive any information about. The article draws on previous studies as well as personal research experiences to specify the ideas of control and responsibility that ethical committees try to impose. Three seemingly trivial but telling details in ethical review processes are particularly focused upon, including how to inform subjects, how to make them safe, and how to stay non-persuasive towards them by not appearing too grateful for their participation.