Recent reading for studies at Lancaster included
Ethics of Internet Research: Contesting the Human Subjects Research Model
Beyond a week's focus on ethics the above refers to Life Writing:
The study of Life Writing spans many disciplines, and represents 'a fast changing terrain' which is concerned with the study of the writing of lives, encompassing auto/biography as well as aspects of life story that originate outside the written form, such as oral history, testimony, and artifacts such as photography and the visual arts (Jolly, 2001, p. ix). The written text is viewed as a vehicle for an individual's construction of identity, the personal narrative that it records beingWhat chance is there that Life Writing will be - is being influenced by current demographic and societal trends? Trends and challenges that inevitably present new meanings for history within life and with this new ethical issues? While life writing is clearly an established discipline, how might it develop and what other challenges might apply?
…a fundamental means by which people comprehend their own lives and present a 'self' to their audience. (Borland, 1991, p. 71)
The multiple approaches taken in Life Writing research can arguably be attributed to the multidisciplinary background of its practitioners. Like Internet researchers, those researching Life Writing have been trained in a variety of disciplines including anthropology, sociology, history, linguistics and literary theory. These various disciplines have contributed a range of insights into the collection of oral history and analysis of the resultant texts (Gluck and Patai, 1991, p. 3). Ethical guidelines for the conduct of Life Writing researchers, such as those published by the Oral History Society in the UK, appear to follow a human subjects model, focussing on the undertaking of the interview, and restricting discussion of the resultant text to issues of copyright. Yet practitioners emphasise the need to remember that as:
…the typical product of an interview is a text, not a reproduction of reality …models of textuality [are] therefore needed. (Gluck and Patai, 1991, p. 3)
In health and social care Life Story Work is an important part in of assessment and interventions. Has it been discussed, is it appropriate, completed and if so, is this work available and accessible? Do we need people beyond the existing establishment with a dedicated set of skills and knowledge to engage with people diagnosed early on, or will treatments soon make this less of an issue? Will dementia and early dementia especially, with the latest technology prompt new perspectives, or reinforce existing life writing practices? What is an archive? In life story work these people, persons, individuals (and their lives?) are more than subjects.
There are many overlaps already in the mental health state of past and present national leaders, while health services continue to bridge the dementia gap in diagnosis. Biography: world leaders, other recognised lives in Life Story Work and seeking to preserve personal identities in dementia care: clearly these are figures that count.