Abstract: There is a rich literature on the use of medical trials as a model for designing and evaluating the outcomes of social policy interventions in former colonies. Yet social experimentalists have not engaged in a correspondingly vibrant discussion of medical ethics. A systematic review of social experiments shows that few studies explicitly discuss informed consent, or the serious constraints on securing informed consent from impoverished or child participants, particularly in the context of cluster randomization. The silence on informed consent, and in some cases active denial thereof, suggests that it is often considered less important than other elements of experimental design. This matters since involuntary experimentation on vulnerable people violates their personhood, increases the risk of unintended harm, and establishes continuities with colonial experimentation. There is a need to develop more effective mechanisms for regulating social experiments in former colonies. In the interim, scholars in the South have a responsibility to call for a moratorium on experiments.
Comment: Are useful counterweight to the literature on the randomise control trial is in development economics, shows that they are much more ethically controversial than they're willing to admit, also good for bringing out of the colonial aspect of even contemporary economics.