Titles on our Children, Young People and Families list range from bestselling textbooks, including the Open University Childhood series, critical monographs such as those in the international Sociology of Children and Families series and the Families, Relationships and Societies journal.
Long-established, this interdisciplinary list brings together work across Childhood Studies, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology. It supports students in their successful study, challenges current policy and practice and offers practical guidance to those working with children and young people in often difficult circumstances.
Children, Young People and Families
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This chapter centres on an incident that occurred when carrying out research with children, in which a child fell and bumped their head. The reflexive ripples of that event form the focus of this chapter. The aim of the study was to explore children’s perceptions of their school playground, a graveyard, a potentially ‘sensitive’ topic to navigate. The chapter reflexively considers the implications of utilising and remaining true to the feminist methodological ideals and ethics of care that underpinned this study. Such paradigms embrace care, closeness, emotional engagement, and connectedness with participants, and call for researchers to interrogate their own positions within the research encounter. In reflexively uncovering the many ‘selves’ we brought to this fieldwork, some of which were unexpected – academic, teacher, nurse, mother – the chapter scrutinises our actions during this encounter, here represented by comforting a child through touch. This response became the site of our anxieties, and the intensity of our emotional labour, as we wrestled dominant safeguarding discourses of ‘do not touch children’ with methodological values and personal biographies. Revealing such happenings is not easy but being reflexive compels us to question our actions, even those, or particularly those, we might prefer not to share.
This chapter outlines the complexities and methodological issues in adopting a reflexive approach as part of a research project entitled ‘More Than …’. This chapter will illustrate the ways in which we as researchers used reflexivity across our research project, from ethical concerns to decisions around the dissemination of data. The chapter explores, through the lens of reflexivity, the decisions made concerning research design, methods, and ethical processes, where the positionality of the researchers emerged as salient when researching with disabled young people.
This collection explores leading values and concepts in global child-based research through the lens of reflexivity.
The book considers issues such as the identities and roles of researchers, as well as the burdens, boundaries and ethical frameworks which govern their activities. Using empirical examples from Israel, India, Thailand and England, expert contributors discuss a range of topics to include online safeguards, disabilities, gang membership, child protection and various sex-related issues.
This book guides childhood research towards a more reflexive debate that critically challenges conventions, highlighting plurality of voice and improving outcomes.
This chapter provides a detailed reflexive account of my research process for ‘Digital Artefact vs Digital Fingerprint: An Ethnography of Gangs Online’ to problematise the concept of ‘do no harm’ for the digital child and the digital researcher. This chapter draws from a digital ethnography which used publicly available data, triangulated with eight expert interviews and participant observation in 12 focus groups about gangs and social media. Research was conducted in secondary schools located in a borough identified as having high levels of serious youth violence. I demonstrate how child protection frameworks ultimately placed limits on children’s voices, which resulted in my becoming a covert researcher, ‘lurking’ online, as sanctioned and deemed preferable by the ethics committee. The concept of ‘do no harm’ and the ethics associated therewith had underestimated the child’s life and potential harm online. Covert online research made defensible to protect ‘offline children’ exposed me to high levels of trauma. This chapter critically explores how we, as researchers, can respond to research trauma. I highlight why I will never ‘lurk’ again and how we can move forward with online research with vulnerable populations by applying feminist methodologies.
Aspects of sexuality accompany the individual from infancy through adolescence to adulthood. In terms of the hegemonic discourse, sexual maturity marks the dividing line between childhood and adolescence, so there is little discussion of sexuality during the period of childhood. The public consensus is that the sexualisation of culture as a construct of childhood is negative and many parents and teachers are reluctant to provide sex education to children. Along with this, children use the internet as a source of information about various topics, including sex and sexuality. This chapter discusses the sexting phenoSmenon (sending and receiving sexual messages) among children and young people and suggests ways of addressing this behaviour. After reviewing the relevant research literature, we examine ethical issues, our dilemmas and reflections as both researchers and mothers when conducting such research, and our understanding of the fears many parents harbour about their children’s encounters with sexuality.
Reflexivity is an expansive notion and a methodological idea[l] that can be applied across many aspects of research, from ontological positions to epistemological and methodological questions, and further to global and political issues. This volume focuses on the insights that such reflexivity offers to research with children by bringing together researchers who incorporate and interrogate this concept as a central tenet of their work. Reflexivity is used, throughout the volume, to shine a light onto the decisions we make as researchers, our uncertainties and concerns within the research process, and the actions we take with our co-producers in research, children. Reflexivity grants us permission to share our research journeys and all their imperfections with an openness and honesty previously denied. The volume argues for a paradigm shift that moves away from simply ‘collecting’ the voices of children to the inclusion of reflexivity as a way to develop a more meaningful encounter with our contributors, a deeper exposition of self, position, power, and thinking, and a moral imperative to improve the lives of our participants. The volume and its contributors argue that the inclusion and wider involvement of reflexivity provides the next step in moving forward methodologies that research children and childhood.
This chapter uses the concept of reflexivity to discuss how child voice, as distinct from children’s participation, is the product of a dynamic interplay of relationships that occurs within and outside of the child protection system. A critical reflection of the significant role of political structures, processes, relationships, narratives, and the linkages between them in child protection work shows the complex variables that influence the implementation of child voice in child protection. The multiplicity of socio-cultural aspects of participation, policymaking, and practice with children is discussed in terms of an ‘ecosystem’ that draws attention to the complexity of structural and cultural conditions that influence child voice. Moreover, our understanding of child voice can be developed by making tangible the unarticulated politicisation of child voice that sits in the background of everyday practice.
This chapter is a reflection on the methods and ethics of doing fieldwork with highly vulnerable children. Fired up with good intentions, a knowledge of children’s rights, and a belief in the necessity of child-focused anthropology, a quarter of a century ago I went to Thailand with the aim of working with child prostitutes. My naive intention was to explore the children’s lives and suggest solutions to the problems they faced. I found the reality very different from my expectations, and therefore this chapter looks at the lacuna between my theoretical knowledge of ethics and the difficulties I had making sense of them on the ground. Here I discuss how my feelings about this work have changed over time and I interrogate the mistakes I made during both fieldwork and ‘writing up’. The chapter looks at the strengths and weaknesses of child-centred anthropology, raising questions about how to interpret children’s voices when they do not fit with one’s own worldview or morality. In doing so it looks at the lifelong impacts such research can have on both researcher and researched and questions the purpose of such research and whose needs it fulfils
This chapter presents personal reflections and insights from my own fieldwork experiences. These ethnographic studies involved the children of sex workers in a red -light area in Pune, India, and children living in the conflict zone of Indian-administered Kashmir. The chapter addresses questions of reflexivity as an ethical stance, and the integral and dynamic role of researcher identity, which highlights the emotional labour of doing research on such sensitive research themes. This chapter also evaluates methods, tools, and fieldwork practices used to elicit the views of vulnerable children often neglected in such controversial and contested topics.
This chapter discusses childhood and research with children, particularly those living in peripheral countries or contexts of multiple disadvantages. It centres on reflexivity as a tool for diminishing barriers of research, whether power, privilege, or binaries of us–them. The chapter acknowledges childhood essentialisms reproduced by dominant traditions and agendas, and calls for a shift in the ‘gaze’ on childhood. The discussion outlines the unequal contexts of the indigenous Sabar community as the focus of the study, upon which reflexive discussions are based. Observing research as a ‘site for reflexivity’, the chapter elucidates the reflexive strategies (such as reciprocity and relationality) adopted to emphasise the invisibilised voice of the Sabar children and adults. In doing so, it undertakes an examination of how reflexivity may respond to children’s ontological realities, epistemological differences, or ‘ways of being, knowing and doing’. This chapter contributes to a call for a methodological and ethical ‘turn’ in research, in order to engage peripheral childhoods. In concluding, the chapter discusses the possibilities of reflexivity moving beyond researcher positionality and structural negotiations, to the ontological, methodological, and epistemic framings of research. It proposes that such a reflexive ‘turn’, in acknowledging other-ness, can decentre dominant discourses, knowledge production, and dissemination.