Children’s participation in research: questioning current orthodoxies Dr Kay Tisdall Programme Director, MSc in Childhood Studies University of Edinburgh email@example.com www.childhoodstudies.ed.ac.uk
Shaeffer, D. (1999) Developmental Psychology, 5th Edition Pacific Grove, USA: Brooks/ Cole, p.11
We should use participative methods with children. • A strong presumption by ethical governance towards informed and signed consent. • No research data can remain confidential, due to the need to protect children and young people. • In what we produce, we should celebrate and put forward children’s voices. • Children and young people’s contribution to research should be recognised and valued. • Anonymity of young participants must be protected. • Children and young people can become professionalised, no longer able to represent other children and young people. And some hot debates? • Differences or not between research and consultation • Disagreements whether children and young people need to be ‘trained’ to do research
Why? 1. Epistemological benefits: participatory techniques “access and valorize previously neglected knowledges and provide more nuanced understandings of complex social phenomena.” Kesby (2000, p.423) 2. Ethical benefits: “effective methodology and ethics go hand in hand…the reliability and validity, and the ethical acceptability, of research with children can be augmented by using an approach which gives children control over the research process and methods which are in tune with children’s ways of seeing and relating to their world.” (Thomas and O’Kane, p.336-337)
do children always prefer these ‘participative’ methods to more traditional ones? • do ‘participative methods’ always provide better data? • why are we so fixated about translating them into text? • Why do we as social researchers feel so confident that we can analyse written text? • Learning from methods of visual analysis? • Are we privileging ‘voice’ and articulation, marginalising those who use other communication methods? • Do participative methods translate into participative research?
Are there the same ethical standards? Should there be? • Should children and young people be anonymised in reporting? • What standards of robustness (methods and analysis) should be expected of consultation? • The tyranny of focus groups • The professionalised child
Are there the same ethical standards? Should there be? • Should children and young people be anonymised in reporting? • What standards of robustness (methods and analysis) should be expected of consultation? • The tyranny of focus groups • The professionalised child • Representing consultation
References referred to Alderson, P. and Morrow, V. (2004) Ethics, social research and consulting with children and young people, Essex: Barnardos. Archard, D. (2004) Children: rights and childhood, 2nd Edition, London: Routledge. Freeman, M.D.A. (2007) ‘Why It Remains Important to Take Children's Rights Seriously’ The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 15(1): 5-23. Gallacher, L. and Gallagher, M. (2008) ‘Methodological immaturity in childhood research? Thinking through ‘participatory methods’, Childhood Gallagher, M. (2008) ‘‘Power is not an evil’: rethinking power in participatory methods’, Children’s Geographies James, A. and Prout, A. (1990) Constructing and reconstructing childhood, London: Falmer Press.
References cont. James, A., Jenks, C. and Prout, A. (1998) Theorizing Childhood, Cambridge: Polity Press. Kesby, M. (2000) ‘Participatory diagramming: deploying qualitative methods through an action research epistemology’ Area, 32(4):423-435. King, M. and Piper, C. (1990) How the Law Thinks about Children, Aldershot: Gower. Komulainen, S. (2007) ‘The Ambiguity of the Child’s “Voice” in Social Research’ Childhood, 14(1): 11-28. Thomas, N. and O’Kane, C. (1998) ‘The Ethics of Participatory Research with Children’ Children and Society, 12: 336-348. Tisdall, E.K.M., Davis, J. and Gallagher, M. (2008) Researching Children and Young People, London: Sage.