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Does a social movement require higher ethics than the academy? Following feminist and anti-racism movement ethics for rich research outcomes within and beyond psychology


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The Pakeha Treaty movement is a social movement of primarily white women challenging racism and colonialism in New Zealand. Groups of activist educators formed throughout the country during the 1970s and 1980s. Today, they continue their work of strategic education about the Treaty of Waitangi, the original agreement for settlement. The ethics of the movement drew upon feminist praxis and research, including a commitment to transparent collective theorising, practice and accountability. The aim of this paper is to explore how my doctoral research intersected with these ethics, and challenged ‘good research’ principles in psychology of confidentiality, anonymity and individual self-reflection.

This paper presents the processes developed as I recorded the theorised practice of 10 Treaty educator groups. I positioned myself as an insider Treaty educator remaining accountable to the ethics of our social movement, and responded to challenges from participants for transparent, shared interpretations. This necessitated revision of consents to allow group and individual identities and authorship to be known and acknowledged at a national level.

As a result, an innovative method of ‘cumulative theorising’ between successive groups developed, culminating in a national sharing of practice theorised verbally and visually. The new method deepened the movement’s collective knowledge and contemporary practice, and led to useful resources – a series of visual theories published in a book and a DVD/video.

By following stringent ethics for collective accountability and transparency developed by feminist and antiracism social movements, my research outcomes were significantly richer than had I followed more traditional research ethics. Feminist praxis and research helped to challenge academic norms, as well as being challenged by a deeply rooted collective approach.

I will discuss implications for the researcher purporting to explore ‘new’ knowledge on women and psychology.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional Information: Conference held 11-16 July, 2010, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Uncontrolled Keywords: social movement ethics; feminist collectivity ethics; researcher accountability
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Development
Depositing User: Ingrid Huygens
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2011 02:04
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 02:33

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