Doing research with intellectually disabled participants: reflections on the challenges of capacity and consent in socio-legal research

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Abstract

In this article, I reflect on the praxis of doing qualitative interview research involving intellectually disabled people as participants. I explore the ways in which ethical and legal norms work together to shape what is possible in research with intellectually disabled participants. I use stories from the field to explore issues of recruitment and sampling, working with ‘gatekeeper’ organizations, accessible information and informed consent, and data sharing and open access. As these reflections demonstrate, undertaking fieldwork involving intellectually disabled participants presents multiple challenges for socio-legal researchers. They also show that many of the challenges are surmountable, offering concerns, considerations, and solutions that can, and perhaps should, be considered by all socio-legal researchers who wish to ensure that all of the voices of society are included and reflected in their research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S28-S43
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Volume48
Issue numberS1
Early online date16 Dec 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
‘Everyday Decisions: Interrogating the Interface between Mental Capacity and Legal Capacity’ funded by British Academy Mid‐Career Fellowship (MCF150026); ESRC Impact Acceleration Account @UoB ‘Supported Will‐Making’ (2017); ESRC Impact Acceleration Account @ UoB ‘CLARiTY: Capacity Law and Rights Information to You’; further research also supported by a Philip Leverhulme Prize from the Leverhulme Trust.

Funding Information:
I would like to thank Linda Mulcahy, Rachel Cahill‐O'Callaghan, and Anna Bryson for their comments on an earlier draft of this article. I am grateful to the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, and the ESRC IAA at the University of Birmingham for financial support for aspects of the research reported here.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Law and Society published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Cardiff University (CU)

Keywords

  • Law
  • Sociology and Political Science

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