HUMA launches a new book: Ethical quandaries in social research

03 Mar 2015
03 Mar 2015

Ethical Quandaries in Social Research, edited by Deborah Posel (Huma) and Fiona Ross (Social Anthropology), opens up a space of frank discussion about the often unsettling, messy realities of ethical decision-making in the thick of social research. All the contributors write in the first person about personal experiences of resarch. They expose tensions within professioanl codes of ethics, as well as a range of dilemmas that arise when personal ethical convictions jostle with disciplinary and institutional ethical imperatives. Ethical Quandaries in Social Research is unique in spanning a range of research scenarios, qualitative and quantitative, across different disciplines, fields of study and institutional settings. It will be of interest to all social researchers – in universities, NGOs and other applied millieu – working in fields of resarch structured by hierarchies of difference and conditions of inequality.

The book draws in the first instance on a seminar series that HUMA co-hosted with the Faculty of Humanities Research Ethics Committee at UCT.   From HUMA’s perspective, it was a series – and now a book – that engaged directly with one of our flagship research themes, On Being Human.   As social researchers well know, the difficult ethical choices we have to make in the research field go well beyond the professional and/or disciplinary guidelines that we are obliged to follow.  They are also  – and fundamentally – a matter of pursuing what we, as human beings, consider to be an ethically appropriate path.   And often, the difficulties we experience in making these decisions throw up uncertainties or dissonances within our versions of our ethical humanity.
Ethical Quandaries in Social Research is available from HSRC Press online for R270.

Book Launch to be announced soon!


  • Opening up the quandaries of research ethics: beyond the formalities of institutional ethical review
    Deborah Posel and Fiona Ross
  • Layers of watching and protection in research with children
    Rachel Bray
  • The cost of action: large-scale, longitudinal quantitative research with AIDS-affected children in South Africa
    Lucie Cluver et al
  • Who benefits from research? ethical dilemmas in compensation in anthropology and public health
    Christopher Colvin
  • Staying silent when we should speak up: informed consent and the interface between ethics as regulation and ethics in practice
    Jantina de Vries and Lesley Henley
  • Transnational excursions: the ethics of northern anthropological investigations going south
    Leslie London and Helen McDonald
  • My best participants’ informed consent
    Zethu Matebeni
  • Friends in the field
    Sakhumzi Mfecane
  • Ethical quandaries in empirical, socio-legal research
    Sindiso Mnisi Weeks
  • In depth, out of my depth: research and care in the field of HIV/AIDS research
    Deborah Posel
  • Ethical entailments: publics and responsibilities in social research
    Fiona Ross and Jennifer Grant
  • Writing psychotherapy
    Sally Swartz
  • The ethics of distaste in the field
    Ilana van Wyk
  • When knowledge turns to evidence and silence won’t do
    Anna Versfeld
  • Real friends and fake friends: Research relationships in an era of global social media
    Marion Walton and Silke Hassreiter
  • The weight of a photographer’s ‘value backpack': an interview with Paul Weinberg.
    Paul Weinberg, Deborah Posel and Fiona Ross