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Practical ethics for PGIS practitioners, facilitators, technology intermediaries and researchers (PLA 54)

Journal article
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It is too easy when sharing experiences relating to PGIS practice to focus on success stories, and for practitioners to be hesitant in engaging in critical reflection relating to their own work. These important but little discussed issues include potential pitfalls that projects might face, the concerns surrounding precision, and the ethics of the practice. Giacomo Rambaldi, Robert Chambers, Mike McCall and Jefferson Fox’s paper attempts to compile a number of the ethical issues raised, both during the conference and also from further discussion among practitioners and researchers via different channels. No papers at the conference specifically addressed ethics in PGIS practice. But ethics emerged as one of the main crosscutting concerns of the conference participants throughout. Issues include the costs of wasting people’s time, raising expectations that are not met, endangering people through the information they show, the practice being used to extract information and/or put it in the public domain which outsiders would then exploit, and the practice creating conflicts and demanding precision where fuzziness might be more appropriate.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See:

Article in: PLA 54. Guest-edited by: Giacomo Rambaldi, Jon Corbett, Michael K. McCall, Rachel Olson, Julius Muchemi, Peter Kwaku Kyem, Daniel Wiener, Robert Chambers

Source publication:
Participatory Learning and Action 54 – Mapping for change: practice, technologies and communication
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