Ethical Tensions as Educative Spaces in Narrative Inquiry


  • Elly Park University of Alberta
  • Vera Caine University of Alberta
  • David McConnell University of Alberta
  • Joanne Minaker MacEwan University



ethical tensions, narrative inquiry, relational research, Hannah Arendt


In "The Human Condition," Hannah ARENDT (1958) calls us to think deeply about our role in relationships, to be mindful of our actions and intentions. In this article, we take up the ethical tensions one of us faced while working alongside women with learning difficulties, who have been involved in the criminal justice system. The narrative inquiry is based on the doctoral research of the first author, who engaged with four women in the living and telling of their experiences. The ethical questions that surfaced were complex, multilayered, and called forth questions of commitment and responsibilities. These tensions are contemplated as educative spaces by the first author and her supervisory committee. In particular, we look at ethical considerations in terms of who we are and are becoming as researchers in relation to participants we work with. Within the ongoing discourse about qualitative research ethics, this article emphasizes the need to think about research relationships as part of an intricate web that connects us all as human beings.



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Author Biographies

Elly Park, University of Alberta

Elly PARK completed her PhD in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her doctoral work focuses on using a narrative inquiry approach to understand experiences of young women with learning difficulties involved in the Canadian criminal justice system. Her research interests include young people involved the criminal justice system, social justice and restorative justice practices. She volunteers for different community organizations that work with marginalized populations, including the Youth Restorative Action Project (YRAP) and the Edmonton Elizabeth Fry Society, and she hopes to bridge her research with social policies and community initiatives.

Vera Caine, University of Alberta

Vera CAINE is an associate professor in the Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Canada. Her areas of research reflect her interest in cross-disciplinary work and health equity in the areas of indigenous health and HIV infections. Since joining the faculty in 2009, CAINE has held numerous operating grants and in 2013 received a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. She maintains close relationships with community organizations such as the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, the Mustard Seed, Streetworks and HIV Edmonton. Her research has made significant contributions to narrative inquiry as a qualitative research methodology. She has also worked in supervisory roles with post-doctoral fellows and undergraduate and graduate students in the faculties of nursing, medicine, education and anthropology.

David McConnell, University of Alberta

David McCONNELL, PhD, trained at the University of Sydney, Australia. He is currently professor and director of the Family and Disability Studies Initiative, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta, Canada. His research interests include social inclusion, supported parenting, and sustainable family care-giving. Dr. McCONNELL is an international leader in the field of parents and parenting with intellectual disability. The work of his research group in Australia, spanning two decades, led to the world's first national strategy to build system's capacity to support parents with intellectual disability and promote a healthy start to life for their children. He is currently Chair of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Special Interest Research Group on Parents and Parenting.

Joanne Minaker, MacEwan University

Joanne MINAKER, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at MacEwan University, Canada. An engaged mother of three and socially conscious academic, her life/work is rooted deeply in her commitment to family, social justice and the power of meaningful connections. She's an award- winning educator and author/editor of "Criminalized Mothers, Criminalizing Mothering and Youth, Crime, and Society: Issues of Power and Justice" (Demeter Press, 2015). Dr. MINAKER studies care, human connection, and social in/justice, including publications on domestic violence, criminalized girls and women, youth justice, and parenting. With a PhD in socio-legal studies from Queen's University, Canada, in 2003, Dr. MINAKER has devoted almost two decades to critical reflection and social engagement for social justice for the most vulnerable and marginalized. Her latest quest is leading Cared Humanity, a care-based community encouraging mutual support for the fundamental human tasks of care. She speaks passionately about the transformative power of caring and inspires people to be change agents radically restructuring the landscape of care in bold and powerful ways.




How to Cite

Park, E., Caine, V., McConnell, D., & Minaker, J. (2016). Ethical Tensions as Educative Spaces in Narrative Inquiry. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 17(2).



FQS Debate: Qualitative Research and Ethics