ISEND Research Cluster Symposium: Participatory Methods of Research with Children

Date and time
Wednesday, 30 March 2022
13.00 - 14.00


Presenters: Dr Sophia Gowers and Katherine Mycock

Presentation Description

All too often children in popular discourses are portrayed as “human becomings” and not as “human beings”: as recipients of power without agency (Qvortrup, 2009, p.639). In contrast, a well-established and now extensive body of work known as the “New Sociology of Childhood” brings together empirical studies from across the social sciences to define children as agents in their own lives (Jenks, 2005; James & Prout, 1997; James et al., 1998). From this perspective, children are understood to develop their own identities and viewpoints, as well as being competent in dealing effectively with day-to-day issues (Prout, 2002). Children are not understood merely as the passive recipients of adult interventions, but as empowered social actors bringing about societal futures and shaping their own lives (Diuk, 2013).    

Numerous participatory research methods (PRM) have been created in response to the “New Sociology of Childhood” literature and the development of children’s participative rights through the United Nations Convention of Rights of the Child (UNCRC). PRM aim to facilitate full participation in research processes and practices (Vaughn & Jacquez, 2020) with specific methods designed to elicit the voices of children and young people (Pain, 2004). Other research methods, including questionnaires and interviews, can often reinforce unequal child-adult power relations. At times this creates compliance effects on children’s responses (Pain, 2004; Procter & Hatton, 2015). Additionally, the privileging of spoken and written modes of communication within research position children in deficit where their preferred modes of communication and not recognised or responded to. 

In this symposium Sophia and Katherine will explore the use of PRM to elicit children’s perspectives through a range of mediums, including “ranking and ratings” cards (Mycock and Gowers, forthcoming), multimodal map-making (Gowers, 2020; 2021) and walking interviews (Mycock, 2019; 2020). Together, they signal the importance of slowing down observation, looking closely and attending to the full range of communicative modes used to convey meaning. However, we will also examine some of the limits that we have found with such methods. This includes a critical reflection of the impact of research methods on power dynamics, including the divergence between the anticipated adult-child power relations and the actual power relations that arose during the research process. 

Want to find out more. Download the presentation. 
Participatory Methods Workshop Presentation


If you would like more information please get in touch with Dr Geraldene Codina at g.codina@derby.ac.uk