'Wicked' ethics: Compliance work and the practice of ethics in HIV research

Carol A. Heimer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using ethnographic material collected between 2003 and 2007 in five HIV clinics in the US, South Africa, Uganda, and Thailand, this article examines "official ethics" and "ethics on the ground." It compares the ethical conundrums clinic staff and researchers confront in their daily work as HIV researchers with the dilemmas officially identified as ethical issues by bioethicists and people responsible for ethics reviews and compliance with ethics regulations. The tangled relation between ethical problems and solutions invites a comparison to Rittel and Webber's "wicked problems." Official ethics' attempts to produce universal solutions often make ethics problems even more wickedly intractable. Ethics on the ground is in part a reaction to this intractability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-378
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume98
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Compliance
  • Ethics regulation
  • Globalization
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Medical research
  • South Africa
  • Thailand
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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