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Autonomy, relatedness and ethics : perspectives from researchers, community members and community representatives.

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This study explored the ways in which different stakeholders, namely researchers, community members and representatives define and understand ethically problematic scenarios with respect to research. The intention was to understand the tensions within ethical decision-making as a result of competing conceptions of the self, namely, autonomous and relational conceptions of the self. A hypothetical case scenario, mirroring real life experiences, was used to elicit participants’ understandings of ethical dilemmas. Thematic analysis was employed in the analysis of interview data. Results show that all stakeholders understand ethical dilemmas with reference to benefit sharing, communal and individual ownership of knowledge, and different ways of knowing and validating knowledge. Tensions were noted throughout these understandings, especially in relation to individualistic and communal concepts of the self. It is recommended that indigenous epistemologies should be acknowledged as vital components in research into the experiences of local communities in particular. Research should be considered as a joint process whereby research participants and communities engage on an equal basis with researchers.


Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2009.


Research--Moral and ethical aspects., Social sciences--Research., Theses--Psychology.