The ethics of researching unlikeable subjects

Rüdiger, Sofia and Dayter, Daria. (2017) The ethics of researching unlikeable subjects. Applied Linguistics Review, 8 (2-3). pp. 251-269.

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This article explores ethical conundrums in linguistic research on online platforms populated by ‘pick-up artists’ (PUAs), a community that learns and practices speed-seduction for short-term mating. Originally a male heterosexual community, PUAs encourage men to use manipulative strategies to select, pursue, isolate and sexually conquer women ( Hall, Jeffrey A. & Melanie Canterberry. 2011 . Sexism and assertive courtship strategies. Sex Roles 65(11). 840–853). Using so-called ‘field reports’ – detailed accounts of interactions with women – from Anglophone PUA forums as our data, we investigate the narrative stance devices that PUAs use to impose the game frame on their activities. Unavoidably, sampling language in an environment where risky topics are under constant discussion presents ethical dilemmas. The article focuses on how conducting research in a hostile community may influence traditional methodological decisions. Through the example of the PUA community, we discuss the vulnerability of subjects and potential harm in linguistic research, and whether anything gives the researcher the freedom to forego informed consent, especially when dealing with publicly available data in an open forum. We also address the myth of the unbiased researcher that is prevalent in contemporary social science, arguing that an analysis should benefit from the fact that the analyst inevitably takes part in the “fight to construct reality” ( Latour, Bruno & Steve Woolgar. 1979 . Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften > Fachbereich Englische Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft > English Linguistics (Locher)
UniBasel Contributors:Dayter, Daria
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:De Gruyter
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:17 Oct 2017 08:53
Deposited On:10 Oct 2017 07:01

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