chapter  12
Reciprocity as relational: two examples of conducting research in Finnish Lapland
Pages 12

In this chapter, we write as researchers who have both conducted studies in the Finnish rural North, focusing on how we came to see reciprocity in our studies. We discuss the ways in which we came to elaborate our understandings of ethics in research with rural – or, for that matter, any – inhabitants and locations. In our studies both of us felt uncomfortable with the common understanding of reciprocity as an ‘exchange’ between the researcher and the participant(s). Reciprocity is often understood as an exchange that usually refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action. In a sense it is thus about ‘returning a favour’. This is considered to be an implicit social contract which increases positive interaction or, in research terms, a form of an incentive or motivation to participate in the research study. Such incentives need to be declared. A researcher might, for example, reward the participants quite literally (with a token of some kind, movie tickets or even money), or more contextually (with a village book, a copy of a publication, or photographs taken in the fi eld/of the participants). Often the exchange is considered to take place once, usually in the beginning or at the end of the research. When conceptualising reciprocity in this way as an exchange, the participation is seen as ‘bought’. In our studies in the Finnish rural North we came to think of reciprocity in research as more than a simple exchange. We began to see reciprocity as relational and as a never-ending process . We highlight how we came to this understanding through our research, both separately and together.