Reflections on a Post-Qualitative Inquiry With Children/Young People: Exploring and Furthering a Performative Research Ethics

Norma Ruth Arlene Romm


In this article I discuss a number of ethical issues surrounding the USA-commissioned Belmont report (NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN SUBJECTS OF BIOMEDICAL AND BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH, 1979), using as one of the spurs for my discussion a case of post qualitative research with ten (Black) children aged 14-15 in a school in South Africa. I asked the children to form groups to reflect together on the possible relevance for South Africa of certain scenarios in relation to climate change that had been constructed during research in Australia. The "scenario exercise" was intended to stimulate the participants' active learning together in relation to their engagement with the scenarios. It was also intended to be consciously "performative" in that the words used in the presented scenarios would admittedly have some impact on the children's (joint) considerations, for which I took some responsibility. With reference to this research, and at the same time engaging with ongoing ethical debates related to the purpose of social scientific inquiry, I offer ethical deliberations which entail a radical revision of the ethical guidelines of the Belmont report (which inform many institutional ethical review boards across the globe) to incorporate a performative understanding of social research. While I concentrate on addressing ethical issues concerning research interaction with children/young people, I suggest that my deliberations have implications for participatory research with adults too.


Belmont report revisioned; children as co-inquirers; collective responsibility, Indigenous research paradigm; reality as becoming; relational sampling; relational knowing; research as performative; social justice; ecological justice; ethics

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