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Application of Ethics in the South African Rural Context

Azwihangwisi Helen Mavhandu-Mudzusi

2023 South Africa, Africa

When conducting research, it is fundamentally important to adhere to universal ethical principles with the intent to minimise harm and maximise benefits. This is not always relevant as these principles are based on the Western way of doing things. In Western culture, the focus of ethics is mainly on individualism and this value undermines the essence of ubuntu. However, in the South African context, the individual is always seen in relation to significant others, meaning that relational philosophies need to inform context-specific ethics in these communities. This paper aims to advocate for the utilisation of contextually relevant ethical principles to embrace diverse South African contexts. The paper is based on the author’s reflexive practice in conducting research in South Africa’s rural areas. The reflection focuses on the researcher’s dilemma in implementing universal ethical principles in a rural South African context. The paper highlights congruent ethical approaches in a diverse African context guided by relational ethics which is grounded in ubuntu principles. The approaches ensure that researchers remain ethical by embracing ubuntu principles.

ethics, reflective practice, relational ethics, rural, South African context, ubuntu