The politics and ethics of research into ‘wicked’ social problems: The case of Jimmy Savile at Duncroft

Mark Smith (Lead / Corresponding author)

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

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    242 Downloads (Pure)


    While research is rarely neutral, some research topics are more sensitive than others. Child sexual abuse (CSA) is one such topic. With reference to a piece of research funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to collate a database of information on the Savile case, drawing on a range of data sources such as social media content, official reports and interviews with former pupils and staff members from Duncroft, factors that were considered in conducting the research will be discussed. These are the role of reflexivity in thinking about one’s position in relation to research topic, how cultural scripts impact on what can and cannot be discussed as well as the power of stories or narratives in acceptance of a particular viewpoint. The act of engaging in such research can be represented as calling into question and further dismissing the accounts of those claiming abuse. Alternatively the project confronts major issues of justice related to the presumption of innocence, which need to be addressed by researchers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDesigning and Conducting Research in Social Science, Health and Social Care
    EditorsFiona McSweeney, Dave Williams
    PublisherTaylor & Francis
    Number of pages13
    ISBN (Electronic)9781351245425
    ISBN (Print)9781351245418
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2019


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