05 SES 10, From Babyhood To Youth: Research Methodology and Children’ Participation
Joint Session with NW 07 and 19
Time constrains at conference presentations often limit discussions of the methodological aspects of research. However, methodology is a foundational dimension of research and ultimately is the basis on which claims to knowledge and the validity of research outcomes are judged. This cross-network symposium, with contributions from Networks 5, 7 and 19, aims to debate:
• Emerging methodological approaches to researching education, childhood and youth
• The involvement of young people and children as co-researchers and active participants
• The design, use, and adaptation of research methods to more effectively engage young people and articulate their perspectives
Children and youth have moved from a marginal status to the centre of many studies in the last thirty years, as their role as social actors has become more recognised. Since the seventies a wider social debate has developed around their agency in cultural production and reproduction which has resulted in the ‘invisibility’ of these social actors being progressively overcome.
This cross-network symposium aims to offer an opportunity to exchange methodological approaches and tools, attached to new theoretical approaches to the study of childhood and youth and discuss their implications and limitations. The methodological approaches we want to explore will range from more traditional research strategies such as ethnography to the use of less established tools such as visual methods. The focus though will be on grasping the meaning that children give to their own actions, behaviours and relationships and the roles available to adopt within the research process.
Whatever role children adopt in research raises a series of methodological and epistemological questions, from the inadequacy of more generally applied methodological tools, designed to study the adult social world, to whether young children’s conceptions of their social world and agency are as ‘valid’ as those of adult participants.
In this symposium we wish to challenge researchers to find more meaningful ways to work with children, which support them in fully expressing their own views and perspectives. This will involve creative ways of use established methods, to new methods created specifically for this purpose. We encouraged papers that address the use of a range of tools such as play and graphic aids, pictures, drama, role playing, video recording and participatory video ethnography.
The engagement of young people and children in research which attempts to give them the opportunity to articulate their own perspectives raises a wide range of issues. How to create caring contexts of trust, ethical considerations about informed consent, respect for children’ and young people rights, parents’ rights, issues of anonymity and confidentiality, and reciprocity with research participants are issues intertwined with methodological approaches to work with children that require further discussion and reflection.
The symposium is organised in two sessions. The first session groups together papers concerned with methodologies that foster child/youth participation at different ages: from babyhood to youth. They offer not only reflections upon researchers own fieldwork but also meta-analysis of methodologies used by others, enriching therefore the discussion on the possibilities offered by various research approaches and tools.
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