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Publication - Professor Andrew Charlesworth

    Participatory Research and the Medicalization of Research Ethics Processes

    Citation

    Noorani, T, Charlesworth, A, McDermont, M & Kite, A, 2017, ‘Participatory Research and the Medicalization of Research Ethics Processes’. Social and Legal Studies, vol 26., pp. 378-400

    Abstract

    This article illustrates how medicalized epistemologies and methodologies significantly influence the institutional ethical review processes applied to socio-legal research in law schools. It argues this development has elevated particular renderings of mental distress and objectivity to universal definitions, potentially placing a straitjacket on methodological innovation. The authors use two case studies from their experiences as researchers in a UK Law School, alongside a small-scale survey of socio-legal researchers in other UK law schools, to illustrate the problems that can arise in securing ethical approval for socio-legal research, in particular with participatory research designs which mobilise ideas of mental distress and objectivity not premised on conventional medical understandings.
    The article develops key proposals that the authors feel merit further inquiry. Firstly, that there should be a comprehensive evaluation of how the jurisdiction of ethical review for socio-legal research is established. Secondly, that socio-legal scholarship can contribute to debates concerning the discursive, material and procedural constitution of institutional ethics approval processes. Finally, that we might rethink the nature of, and relationship between, university-based research ethics committees and NHS research ethics committees, by placing both within wider ecologies of capacities for ethical decision-making.

    Full details in the University publications repository