A feminist ethics of care involves an ethical belief that research should take into account the welfare, well-being and concerns of research participants and researchers. This includes taking into account the affective, or emotional impact of research on participants.
The exercise of an ethics of care also involves considering the distribution of power in the research process. This includes, relationships of power between researchers and participants, as well as relationships between researchers, for example, between student researchers and senior academics (Peake 2015, pp. 263-264).
An ethics of care considers both the collective and relational impacts of research (Bell 2014, p. 82). Practicing an ethics of care could involve:
Central to practicing an ethics of care is protecting research participants from vulnerable groups or minority groups to ensure that they are not being exploited or harmed by the research.
A research project entitled ‘Precarious Lives: Asylum seekers and refugees experience of forced labour’ involved a range of ethical issues related to the vulnerabilities faced by asylum seekers and refugees, including issues of confidentiality and informed consent.
Read a discussion of the case study provided by the Economic and Social Research Council.
• What are the key relationships in your research project where an ethics of care can be applied? Are there power differences in those relationships?
• Are there groups in your research project with heightened vulnerabilities, who may need extra measures of protection to enact an ethics of care?