Phase 2: ethics

There were some very interesting points made about the ethics of co-creation by Ann Light, one of our advisors.  She said:

Ethics for CARE

This project brings people together to explore the exchanges that happen through collaborative making; what we term the ‘small stories’.

It takes an asset-based approach to skill sharing and aims to help people recognise, value, reflect on and develop the skills and aptitudes they have.

It proposes that particular qualities and values are bound up in collective making and doing and aims to explore what these are.

What are the distinctive benefits of learning through creative making?

Buddies bring a range of different expertise, knowledge, creative capacities, enthusiasms, ambitions, desires and our aim is to set up a kind of slow dating process to enable buddies to collaborate and learn from each other.

All participants are ‘makers’ and ‘responders’, that is engaged in creative making practices and giving supportive critical response – indeed we would say that critical response is itself a form of creative practice.  We view the partnerships as a form of buddy mentoring with each partner engaging in creative practice and offering supportive critique and advice through making; a form of ‘making mentorship’ and ‘making mentee’.

Those signing up to be participants in the project will need to be interested in a number of things that collaboration involves:

          Learning through doing

          Willing to learn from others

          Taking risks

          Open to confronting their own assumptions

          Open to sharing outcomes

          Able to work with others who may have very different perspectives

          Willing to share knowledge and ideas

          Being generous of nature

          Being supportively critical

          Being adaptable and flexible


Current participants have been involved in the design of the platform.  Once this has been built, these and other participants will be invited to take part in collaborating through the platform.

The project is organised around the central idea of a ‘call and response’ mode that is conducted principally, but not exclusively, through making things.  Everybody can be a mentor and a mentee – the project offers opportunities for everybody to learn and teach, give guidance and experiment.  The platform is intended to be a ‘level playing field’ for all participants to engage; differences (of taste, skill, etc) will inevitably arise, however, and understanding why and how these emerge and are dealt with is a central part of the project.

The second phase of the project has taken on board learning from part one, which has raised the specific ethical issue of whose views dominate in the second phase where there are differences in priority. As we go forward together, the key ethical considerations fall into three sections:

1.    how we work together  –It is always possible that awkwardness may arise. We will have an explicit process for dealing with any conflict or discomfort. We will also be bringing in new groups who encounter existing relations, rather than contributing as fully to the co-design, and we have devised a process to make them feel included.

2.    groups are making their own media, so will control their representation that far, but need to understand the implications of working in a research project where their films will be posted on a website. Consent processes will stress this.

3.    research outputs, credit and ownership – the final objects will be co-created, so who owns them? We will discuss how credit is to be assigned in made objects so that different groups retain control of what is important to them.

As we go forward together, the key ethical considerations fall into these categories:

1)      Voice – who is heard and how does their opinion count? who comes to which meetings and decides what?

2)      Reciprocity – finding something of meaning for all

3)      Inclusion – making everything accessible, including the language in which meetings are held as well as tools, etc

4)      Ways of working eg conflict – making things safe and approachable and offering a transparent and public mechanism for resolving difficulties, making choices etc

5)      Representation – giving people control about how they are represented in words and media, both as individuals and as groups

6)      Credit and ownership for all outputs – collaboratively made, made by someone in the wider team, all crafted objects, including research papers…

1)      Legacy issues – can those who wish to go on using what they have become used to?


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