Introduction – On the margins of a trusting system
in Trust in the system
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This chapter outlines the broad argument of the book – that Research Ethics Committees (RECs) are bodies that serve to assess and attest to the trustworthiness of medical researchers. This is explored through a discussion of the origins of RECs in the self-regulation of the medical profession, and the way in which the structure of prior review of research requires regulatory decisions before research takes place. Focusing on work exploring the British regulatory state of the late twentieth century, this introduction makes the point that RECs – with their focus on interpersonal trust – sit uneasily within the context of modern regulation which has tended to move towards retrospective audit as a mode of governance. The chapter then goes on to discuss methodological issues and then introduce the specific sites at which observations were carried out, and explore the way in which previous ethnographic authors writing about trust decisions have operationalised their ideas to enable analysis.

Trust in the system

Research Ethics Committees and the regulation of biomedical research


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