Ethical Issues and Issues of Sensitivity in Sociological Research Ethical issues are the considerations that can have an important influence on the research process. They are moral principles- beliefs about what is right and wrong, which often guide research. Sociological associations in many countries have a set of ethical guidelines for conducting research. There are six main ethical issues; I will explore them below. Sensitive issues are issues that need to be dealt with tactfully because of their subject matter.
This could include subjects such as death, health issues, sex etc. These are potentially sensitive subjects as the people being researched may have had an unpleasant situation with them. The first ethical issue I will investigate is “informed consent”. This is the idea that those the researchers are studying should be given the opportunity to agree or refuse to participate in the research. This means covert observation could not take place, as this involves not letting people know they are being observed.Order now
Informed consent means that the researcher must provide information about the aims of the research, what the conduct of the research involves and the purpose to which the research will be put. This issue was raised when James Patrick did his research on “A Glasgow Gang Observed”. This involved him becoming part of a “gang”, only one member of the gang knew he was a researcher undercover. From spending time with the group, he gained information about what they did, what their attitudes were and how far they were willing to go e. g.
breaking the law. This research did not involve informed consent, as the majority of . . o depends on what sort of person the researcher is, are they highly principled? Or are they willing to cut a few corners to make their research easier or more accurate? How strict a researcher is can definitely benefit/ruin their research.
Telling the complete truth to participants about the research could undermine the research or cause research problems, as if the participants know they are being observed it could cause them to act very differently. A lot of issues are not straightforward, some conflict and often need a great deal of thought put into them. To do completely accurate and valid research, the balance between respecting participants’ privacy, not deceiving them, being careful not to put them at risk of harm and making sure the data collected is true has to be right, and this is a difficult balance to get.