Ethics in small island research: Reflexively navigating multiple relations

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This article concerns research ethics in small, insular communities such as islands and other locales islanded by topography and/or isolation. Using the Faroe Islands as case, the point of departure is a discussion of how islanders navigate multiple relations and how this might impact research ethics. Because relations in such island/islanded communities can be highly interwoven and complex, this article argues for a situated research ethics that is grounded in multiple relations. Most research ethics codes are grounded in Western individualist thought, conceived outside the social sciences and in non-island settings. Furthermore, they may fail to take adequate account of the social interconnectedness, interdependency, and intimacy, which can prevail in small island/islanded communities. Using the concept of reflexive navigation, the article presents a research ethics that encompasses a relational ethics. In doing to, a framework of ethical reflexive navigation is proposed which can support researchers and island research institutions. Within the relational ethics framework, the ethical qualities of attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness are applied to research in island/islanded communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number164
Pages (from-to)233-249
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2022


  • Island/islanded communities
  • Research ethics
  • Multiple relations
  • Reflexive navigation
  • Relational ethics


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