The problems and potential of giving voice to children - Generating ...

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17 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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Allison James



New mantra for policy & practice since UNCRC
1989


Listening to children about matters that concerns
them


Children's wishes and feelings to be sought out


“Children’s voices” seen as symbol of democratic
society


Yet…




articulate few often stand for the many


exploitation of poor and oppressed


use of children
as witnesses of hunger


seen as authentic, unmediated voices


symbolic of innocence of children


Inclusion of children's views still often tokenistic


voices still often ignored & dismissed in practice





‘new paradigm’ 1970s onwards


Hardman (1973); James and
Prout

(1990)


Children as social actors


Children as informants about own lives


Children’s standpoint & perspective


an account of society from the point where children stand


that is, from a children’s standpoint


is in principle just as
conceivable as any of the theoretical accounts of more
conventional ‘adult sociologies’ (
Alanen

1992:109).




1990s onwards


New methods for research and accessing children’s views


children’s voices/ perspectives appear in research
accounts, speaking about the things that concern them
as
children.




growth of participatory research methods to access
children’s views






Why is it that given the political rhetoric
surrounding the commitment to hearing “children’s
voices” and, apparently, now having the theoretical
and methodological means to access them, little of
what children say seems to get heard outside of the
academy (Roberts 2000) ?



Epistemological break with ideas of children's
incompetence to speak


BUT


No longer sufficient simply to present children’s voices as
apt illustrations


Childhood studies has now to engage more directly with
core issues of social theory & policy & practice



must clearly identify unique contribution to understanding
social world that children’s perspectives offer



i.e. why
children's voices matter



need to
recognise

potential of political shift
-

parallel

shifts
in feminism



(
1) Authenticity & representation


Who

is representing children?


How

are children's voices being represented?


For what purposes?


What
role(s
) do children's voices carry in research?




( 2) Issues of diversity


“children’s voices” and “voices of children” gloss differences
between children


UNCRC


best interests of “the child” (Article 12)




(
3) Issues of participation


Research roles


research “on” or “with” children?


How far are / can children be included in research?



(4) Issues of interpretation


Can adult researchers see the world from “ the native’s [children's}
point of view” (
Geertz

1983) ?



(5) Children as researchers?



Does using children as researchers necessarily lead to:



greater authenticity?



Does it overcome power differences in the research relationship?




Need to interrogate authenticity and representation



“the voice of the child” is not unimpeachable



Children’s voices in accounts NOT authentic


Voices chosen , selected by author



Need to avoid “
ethnographic ventriloquism
” (
Geertz

1983)i.e. claiming to speak for children



‘ the ethnographer …in the end assumes an executive ,
editorial position’
(Clifford 1988:51).





Need to
recognise

that “the voice of the child” is not
universal


there is no such thing as ‘the child’




need to avoid text positivism i.e. assuming that


“ what children say” applies to all children










“Children’s voices” are always glossed by the author



quotations are always staged by the
quoter

and tend to
serve merely as examples of confirming testimonies
’ (Clifford
1988:50)



Need to challenge routine “quoting” voices in text


adding decoration in claim to authenticity


tokenistic practices




Participatory research methods do allow children’s
voices to be heard


Fun for children to do


allows abstract ideas to become more concrete


Mediates research relationship


Draws on children's own skills


BUT


Can become end in their own sake!


Proliferation of methods often just a proliferation


not
triangulation


Children can become over researched and over whelmed



Aim to make children’s voices more authentic &
overcome other problems


BUT




the reasons why a child or a young person should choose to participate in research are
clearer in some studies than others…we cannot take it for granted that participation in
research and the development of increasingly sophisticated research methods to facilitate
children’s participation is necessarily always in their interests’

( Roberts 2000:238).



Can be potentially as exploitative as other forms of research



Can lead to a tension between research and advocacy roles


Can limit aims of research and research questions to “children's
issues”, rather than asking children about other
m,ore

global
concerns


Research has revealed children's engagement with adult world &
need to listen to children


(e.g. children’s views of parental divorce Smart, Neale and Wade 2001)



(e.g. implementation of
Childrend

ACT 1989
-
children's wishes and
feelings &

adults’ idea of “best interests” (
James, James and McNamee
2004)



Child
-
centred

research has assisted with promotion of children's
rights & their local implementation


( e.g. children as health educations
Onyango
-
Ouma

2001)


C
hildren’s

perspectives on child labour (
Boyden, Ling and Myers 1998)




Recognition of social construction of childhood has enabled
diversity to be explored



(e.g. culturally appropriate interventions
Woodhead

1996)


( e.g. children's views on gender and race in the classroom (Connolly
1998; 2004)




Childhood studies achieved a great deal



Poised for development in future


Voices important but also need to explore structural
issues



Cultural politics of children's voices
can explore
relationship between:


Childhood as a social space


Childhood as a generational category


Child as individual