Researcher ethics, solidarity and accountability: The promise of understanding

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Following Sabar and Ben-Yeoshua’s (2017) line of argument on ethical dilemmas associated with reporting on sensitive matters to avoid harm and Watson’s (2008) critique of evoking reader’s empathy through manipulation, this chapter takes the argument further by showing how solidarity to targets of workplace bullying, the unspoken promise of “understanding” and expectation for validation of interview accounts, can be undermined by sexist comments, arrogance and aggression from interviewees. Using two interview encounters from a large Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded study into workplace bullying amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual employees in the British workplace, I illustrate how researcher understanding cannot be promised, how simple it is to blame targets for workplace bullying (either fully or partially) and how easy it is to discredit stories. Strictly speaking, I had failed, failed as a researcher to show empathy and failed to demonstrate solidarity as a lesbian to other queer people. Faced with sexism, arrogance and aggression during the interviews, I struggled to deliver on both suitable research integrity and being queer.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Workplace Bullying
Subtitle of host publicationWorkplace Bullying. Concepts, Approaches and Methods
EditorsPremilla D’Cruz, Guy Notelaers, Ernesto Noronha
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Dec 2018


  • Difficult interviews, ethics, understanding, sexual minorities, the art of failure

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