Excerpt: Human Research Ethics Committees emerged and have expanded in the context of increasing corporatization and bureaucratization of universities in Australia. Initially devised by academics whose research was predominantly in medicine, government bureaucracy imposed them in 1999–2000 with minimal consultation with researchers in Humanities and Social Sciences. While subsequent revisions have attempted to expand and modify the National Statement so that it accommodates research outside medicine, many of the problems inherent in its first iteration remain. The subject of study is still implicitly a vulnerable, individual patient; the researcher continues to appear in the guise of an authoritative, powerful ‘expert’. These hierarchical roles might reflect medical scientists’ self-perceptions, but they do not fit the sorts of relationships that anthropologists have with the subjects of their research—ideally or actually.
Kohn T (2014) Problems with ethics committees. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 25 (3): 379-381