Critical and Radical Social Work
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Negotiating ethical dilemmas in research: to act or not to act in the face of the normalisation of gender injustice encountered in the research process

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  • 1 Midlands State University and Institute of Women Social Workers, , Zimbabwe
  • | 2 University of KwaZulu Natal, , South Africa
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This article focuses on research conducted in relation to the gendered dynamics of access to, and utilisation of, agricultural inputs in the quest for women’s empowerment. The article focuses on the ethical dilemmas that arose during the course of the research in relation to the claim that scientific research, particularly of the logical-positivist tradition, should not cause disruption to people’s lives and that researchers must remain detached and neutral. This contrasts with the requisite of critical, emancipatory social research, which calls for using research for transformational purposes. Our original research, upon which this article is based, reflects that while participants were aware of gender-discriminatory practices in accessing and utilising agricultural inputs, they were unwilling to challenge naturalised discriminatory and oppressive cultural norms. The ethical dilemma was whether to leave the participants’ views and gendered practices unchallenged, or to adopt strategies of consciousness raising in an attempt to engender change.

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  • 1 Midlands State University and Institute of Women Social Workers, , Zimbabwe
  • | 2 University of KwaZulu Natal, , South Africa

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