Child-Led Research: Questioning Knowledge?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Patricio CUEVAS-PARRA, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Kay TISDALL, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Over the last twenty years, childhood scholars have created a significant ‘turn’ in childhood research, to undertaking research with rather than on children. While in the past adults were often treated as informants on behalf of children, researchers increasingly respect that children can respond and participate on their own behalf and provide meaningful contributions to address the research questions. Research itself is no longer the sole preserve of adults; children themselves are increasingly taking on different roles within research processes, from advising research studies as consultants, to peer researchers collecting and analysing data, to research collaborators. For those who promote the participation of children and young people, there is considerable enthusiasm to involve them in all research stages – from research planning, fieldwork, analysis to dissemination -- leading to the growth in what is often called ‘child-led research’.

The paper draws upon empirical evidence from such projects, undertaken in both the Global South and the Global North, for a critical examination of the meanings and implications of ‘child-led’ research. In particular, the paper explores what counts as knowledge in research within contexts of generational difference and power. This leads into discussions of ethics and methodologies, alongside questions of research legitimacy and impact. This paper concludes by considering the theoretical boundaries and epistemological frameworks that either support or undermine children and young people’s competencies to conduct research, across the diversity of cultural contexts and of children and young people themselves.