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Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy

The Transnational Politics of Ethics Review: A Study of the Effects of Ethical Regulations on Political Voice in Global South Countries

Project Lead and Researcher: Rebecca Tapscott

Timeline: 2019 - 2023

Keywords: Knowledge production; Transnational politics; Ethics; Norm diffusion; Capacity building; Regulatory regimes; Conflict research

Funding Organisation: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), Ambizione funding scheme

This project examines how rules intended to ensure the ethical conduct of research are applied to research on violent conflict conducted in and on the global South, and how this shapes social scientific knowledge production. Due to the complex nature of ethics, it is a rich case to study transnational norm diffusion and the emergence of transnational regulatory regimes in a highly fragmented and globalized world.

The project has two main objectives. First, it seeks to fill a gap in knowledge about how this rapidly emerging regulatory regime is shaping knowledge production in the field of conflict research. Second, it seeks to identify how diverse actors, such as governments, researchers, and research subjects, engage with this system. The project has three complementary research questions: (1) How and to what extent do transnational politics and institutions shape national-level ethical regulatory regimes? (2) How do these ethics regulations shape the design, data collection, and findings of international conflict research? (3) How do these regulations shape international conflict research as a venue for expression of democratic voice?

The project will have important implications for the ethical conduct of research and for our understanding of knowledge production in the area of conflict research. It offers insight into whether ethical regulations are prone to politicization in some contexts more than others, and whether this is attributable to regime type or contested political narratives. Additionally, it uses a comparative case study approach to draw out which aspects of ethics research regulations are transnational, and which contextually specific. Combined, these findings will contribute to our understanding of the processes at play and the issues at stake in the transnationalisation of ethical research norms.