The technologies of normalization and self: Thinking about IRBs and extrinsic research ethics with foucault

Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, Marco Gemignani, Winton Cheri Brodeur, Cheryl Kmiec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


In this article, the authors discuss the technologies of normalization and self in relation to ethics and the problematization of extrinsic research ethics. They argue that institutional review boards (IRBs) and other similar institutional mechanisms promote extrinsic forms of ethics that are exemplified through institutionalized structures such as (a) the Belmont Report, (b) IRB protocol, (c) informed consent, and (d) localized interpretations of IRB rules and regulations. However, at the same time, institutional normalization enables researchers and participants to construct themselves as ethically responsible participants through resistance and critical reflection. Such "care of the self" and critical awareness of dominant discourses and regimes of power and knowledge are essential to the development and practice of research that is ethical, free, and responsive. Finally, the authors conclude that the discussions about researchers' ethical decision making and freedom of choice need to be separate from discussions related to researchers' compliance, duties, and institutional responsibilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1094
Number of pages20
JournalQualitative Inquiry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes



  • Ethics
  • Foucault
  • IRB
  • Normalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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