The ethics of researching unethical images: A story of trying to do good research without doing bad things

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this article, I tell the story of my research on the topic of “strangershots,’ which are photographs of strangers taken, shared, and mocked online without their subjects’ knowledge or consent. I interweave a narrative of how I conducted my strangershots research with the argument that researchers must develop situationally and ethically responsive methods for working with user-generated digital images. This argument focuses on two of the many ethical quandaries that haunt our efforts to research and write about unethical digital images: looking and sharing. I begin by describing these specific ethical quandaries and providing concrete examples of them from my own research experiences. I then offer actionable strategies for addressing these quandaries. To address ethical problems of looking, I offer the process-oriented methodological strategy of one-and-done data collection. To address ethical problems of sharing, I offer the dual circulation-oriented strategies of asking image subjects for consent and of deploying “ethical ekphrasis,” or intentional description, in place of image reproduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102651
JournalComputers and Composition
Volume61
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Digital rhetoric
  • Research ethics
  • Research methodology
  • Visual rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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