The Eclipse of 'Human Subjects' and the Rise of 'Human Participants' in Research Involving Humans

28 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2011  

Igor Gontcharov

Osgoode Hall Law School; Critical Research Laboratory in Law & Society, Osgoode Hall Law School

Date Written: June 15, 2011

Abstract

The 2010 edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS) adopts a new language of human participants, leaving the previous central concept of “human subjects” behind. This paper seeks to identify the reasons for this important change and stimulate a debate over the main subject of the policy. In particular, it considers whether the transition to human participants was necessitated by harmonization and unification in approaches to ethical oversight on the basis of the biomedical standard, or whether it was an outcome of a given regulatory approach, which is prima facie congruent with “new governance” approaches. It also examines negative performativity of “human subjects” in relation to researchers and research subjects. Finally, it calls for a critical assessment of the current universalist framework to prevent the concept of “human participants” from becoming a euphemism.

Keywords: research involving humans, human subjects, human participants, TCPS, REB, harmonization, standardization, bioethics, social sciences

JEL Classification: K23, K32, I18, I23

Suggested Citation

Gontcharov, Igor, The Eclipse of 'Human Subjects' and the Rise of 'Human Participants' in Research Involving Humans (June 15, 2011). Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 5/2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1896464 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1896464

Igor Gontcharov (Contact Author)

Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

Critical Research Laboratory in Law & Society, Osgoode Hall Law School ( email )

2033 Ignat Kaneff Building
4700 Keele St.
Toronto, Ontario M3J1P3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.criticalresearchlab.org

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