• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Ethical issues and issues of sensitivity are something that sociological researchers need to treat carefully- using examples illustrate why this is so?

Extracts from this document...


Ethical issues and issues of sensitivity are something that sociological researchers need to treat carefully- using examples illustrate why this is so 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. 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. ...read more.


Some research methods that are considered ethical may result in an invasion of privacy. For example, the informal, unstructured interview may develop into a friendly chat between the researcher and the participant, in this relaxed atmosphere the participant may forget they are being observed and give out information that they would not normally and might later regret it. Paul Willis may have had a problem with privacy when he did his research. He openly observed a gang of teenage boys and researched their attitudes towards school and others around them. As this observation was open, it may have encouraged the "lads" to be more exaggerated with their comments and actions and do things they would not normally to "show off". Afterwards the conclusions Willis had drawn would not be accurate and the way the "lads" were portrayed may offend them. Also, around friends the participants would tend to relax more and sometimes forget the observer is there. This may encourage them to release private or personal information they would not normally under observation conditions. The fourth issue is "protection from harm". There is a general agreement that research participants should be protected from harm. This includes everything from the time when the research is taking place, and the long-term effects (if any) ...read more.


The guarantee has to be: I will respect your confidentiality provided I am not made aware of things I cannot keep a secret. In conclusion, without ethical issues being taken into consideration, a lot of physical or psychological damage could occur. All of the above factors must be taken into consideration when designing research, although how a particular sociologist deals with ethical issues will depend on their own ethical values. It also 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. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ethics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Ethics essays

  1. Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle on the acquisition of ethical understanding.

    Plato claimed that the soul was made up of three parts, reason, spirit and desire. Reason is ruling, spirit is ensuring that reason had adequate motivational backing and desire is acquiescing in control by the other two, rather than pressing its own particular claims.

  2. In Vitro Fertilization and it's Moral and Ethical issues.

    that in moral perspective, if a baby is born with low birth weight and grows up to have various disabilities, that it's the fault caused primarily by IVF?

  1. Examine some of the problems that sociologists may encounter when using questionnaires in their ...

    One final consideration that may need to be considered are the theoretical factors . Sociologists may want to base their research on what particular sociological viewpoint they believe in. When attaching this to research methods its fair to assume that because positivists believe in sociology being similar to a science they attempt to make up formulas and laws about society.

  2. With the growth of the Internet, concerns have arisen over the legal and ethical ...

    Ethics is usually thought of as the branch of philosophy that deals with what is right and wrong; the problem is that unethical acts are not always illegal (Mackrodt, 2004). But companies engaging in e-commerce "need to adhere to the same ethical standards that other businesses follow" (Mackrodt, 2004).

  1. "Discuss, using relevant examples, why it is important to have ethical guidelines when conducting ...

    In the 1960's Stanley Milgram did an investigation into obedience to authority. Milgram did a memory test where by volunteers would be the teacher and an actor would be the learner. The leaner had to remember pairs of words every time the learner got one wrong the teacher had to administer an electric shock from 0 to 450 volts.

  2. How Successful is The Co-operative Banks Ethical policy?

    This kind of policy helps maintain customer loyalty as consumers feel that they belong to a group that is helping other people, this would make customers feel guilty about leaving the firm. 4. A strong policy helps to attract new customers.

  1. How can we know, if at all, that our behaviour is ethical?

    From this we can see that their ethical behaviour is determined by the religious customs of the Muslim society. There are several ethical theories that have been put forward by different people in the past. The first of which is put forward by Thomas Hobbes, which is an individualists theory,

  2. Explain how a Hindu marriage service might guide a couple in their married life?

    it is also seen as a sign of great pleasant for a family to have many sons and therefore, it is quite common for there to be as many as eight or ten children in a family , although not all of them would survive to become adults.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work