Gate-keeping and the ambiguities in the nature of 'informed consent' in Confucian societies

Kokila Roy KATYAL

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Scholars of international and comparative education have long endorsed the importance of context in conducting research. In this paper, I expand upon the theme to argue that just as educational policies and practices may be compromised in the process of transfer, so too may the research methodology used to draw inferences fail to resonate from one culture to another. In particular, I discuss some of the practical methodological challenges that I encountered while dealing with informed consent while conducting a research project in Hong Kong. I found that informed consent with its emphasis on individual autonomy was at odds with the norms of the largely collectivist, hierarchical, Confucian heritage culture of Hong Kong. Viewed through Western frameworks of understanding, the negation of informed consent has detrimental connotations as it compromises the fundamental concept of an individual's right to choose. However, I found that when viewed through a Confucian lens this was not a deliberate or intentional infringing of rights but an acceptable manifestation of familial and paternalistic relationships that guide inter-personal interactions in such societies. Copyright © 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-159
JournalInternational Journal of Research and Method in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


Katyal, K. R. (2011). Gate-keeping and the ambiguities in the nature of 'informed consent' in Confucian societies. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 34(2), 147-159.


  • Confucian heritage cultures
  • Ethics
  • International comparative research
  • Qualitative methods


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