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Foregrounding issues of consent in visual research with young children: ethical tales from the field Emma Renold, Amanda Coffey and Bella Dicks School.

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Presentation on theme: "Foregrounding issues of consent in visual research with young children: ethical tales from the field Emma Renold, Amanda Coffey and Bella Dicks School."— Presentation transcript:

1 Foregrounding issues of consent in visual research with young children: ethical tales from the field Emma Renold, Amanda Coffey and Bella Dicks School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

2 Ethnography for the Digital Age ESRC Research Methods Programme Project team: Amanda Coffey, Bella Dicks, Emma Renold, Mathew Williams, Bruce Mason, Bambo Soyinka

3 Overview Ethics and research with children The im/possibility of negotiating informed consent in ethnographic research with young children Participation: consent and time present Adults (opting in) Children (opting out) Representation: consent and time future

4 Ethnography for the Digital Age To develop an integrated digital hypermedia environment for qualitative data collection, management, analysis and authoring To consider the theoretical, methodological and empirical implications of undertaking ethnographic research that exploits the possibilities of digital technologies

5 Ethnographic Research Project Production and reception of science within an interactive science discovery centre How the centre creates environments and spaces for learning How children engage with and receive these environments and spaces The reproduction and performance of science through exhibits and theatre


7 The field setting Exhibits HallScience Theatre

8 Multimedia Fieldwork Research activities and data recording strategies Family visits; centre staff; teachers and pupils before and after visits (including primary school trip). Written texts, visual and audio data, documentary data: * Fieldnotes (participant observation) * Interview recordings and transcripts * Video recordings * Still photography * Soundscapes * Documents and graphics

9 Alderson, P. and Morrow, V. (2004) Ethics, social research and consulting with children and young people. Barnardos. Farrell, A. (2005) (eds) Ethical Research with Children, Open University Press. Ethics and research with children

10 Child as object and subject of research This approach more or less neglects the understanding of children as persons in their own right … their lives and welfare are investigated from the perspectives of adults …. researchers (are) suspicious of childrens trustworthiness and doubtful of their ability to give and receive factual information. Children are perceived as incompetent and accordingly unable to understand the idea of research, lacking the ability to consent to it or have a voice in its design, implementation and interpretation (Christensen and Prout 2002:480)

11 Children as active participants Participatory research and the childrens standpoint (Alanen 1994) Ethical symmetry and local cultures of communication (Christensen and Prout 2002) E.g. visual methods (Pole et al. 1999, David 2002, Smith et al. 2002, Stafford et al. 2003, Holt 2004, Grover 2004) Rigid generational hierarchies often thwart participatory ethos and ethical symmetry (Pole et al. 1999) Our approach: generate methodological techniques which disrupt conventional forms of school-based participation

12 Informed consent: guidance and the law Legal grey areas (Gillick ruling and competence - prioritizing childrens consent) Professional guidelines: childrens consent must be sought in addition to parental consent (BSA, BERA,ESRC) Informed consent as always negotiated and in a state of renewal (Thorne 1987)

13 In the case of participatory social sciences research, consent to participate is seen as an ongoing and open-ended process. Consent here is not simply resolved through the formal signing of a consent document at the start of research. Instead it is continually open to revision and questioning. Highly formalised or bureaucratic ways of securing consent should be avoided in favour of fostering relationships in which ongoing ethical regard for participants is to be sustained, even after the study itself has been completed (ESRC, Research Ethics Framework 2005:24, para 3.2.2).

14 Opting in, opting out: negotiating consent with adult gate-keepers Negotiating access with teachers and parents to achieve starting point of seeking provisional (Flewitt 2005) consent with children Why we took an opt-out approach to parental consent Fears and anxieties: separating out participation from dissemination (overly cautious?)

15 Yes, not sure, no, yes: negotiating consent with young children Temporality of consent Before: reluctant and keen, impossibility of consent as one-off activity before research begins During: consent on the move, actively and constantly negotiated (foregrounded with camcorder) After: ??? (see Hill 2006)

16 Representation: consent and time future Consent as always-in-negotation predominantly at the level of participation. Re-informing and re-negotiating childrens and parents consent to representation of visual data 2 years after completed fieldwork (opt-out:parents, opt-in:children) Ethical unease of blurring faces.

17 Concluding thoughts … Possibilities, limitations and problematics of using and sharing visual data where young children are research participants. E.g. Increased researcher visibility E.g. Active participation and non-participation during fieldwork. E.g. Moral panic over representations of digital child On-going debate (within project) Collective and open dialogue (within social science community)

18 References Alanen, L. (1994) Gender and Generation: Feminism and the Child Question, in Qvortrup et al. (Eds.) (1994), Childhood Matters: Social Theory, Practice and Politics. Aldershot: Avebury Publishing. Alderson, P. and Morrow, G. (2004) Ethics, social research and consulting with children. Barnardos. Alderson, P. (1995) Listening to Children: Children, Ethics and Social Research. London: Barnardos. Banks, M. (2001) Visual Methods in Social Research. London: Sage. Bolton, A., Pole, C. and Mizen, P. (2001) Picture This: Researching Child Workers, Sociology: 35: Brannen, J. (2005) The use of video in research dissemination: children as experts on their own family lives, International Journal of Social research Methodology 5 (2): Christensen, P. and James, A. (2000) Research with Children: Perspectives and Practices. London: Falmer Press. Coffey, A., Renold, E., Mason, B. and Soyinka, B. (2006) Hypermedia Ethnography in Educational Settings, Education and Ethnography 1 (1) Crawford, P & Turton, D (1992) Film as Ethnography, Manchester: Manchester University Press. David, M. (2002) Problems of participation: the limits of action research, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 5 (1):11-17

19 Devine, D. (2003) Children, Power and Schooling. Trentham Books. Dicks, B & Mason, B (1999) Cyber ethnography and the digital researcher, in J Armitage and J Roberts (eds) Exploring Cybersociety: Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Issues Vol. 1, Newcastle: University of Northumbria Press. Dicks, B & Mason, B (2002) Ethnography, academia and hyperauthoring, in O Oviedo, J Barber and J R Walker (eds) Texts and Technology, New York: Hampton Press. Dicks, B, Mason B, Atkinson P & Coffey A. (2005) The Production of Hypermedia Ethnography, London, Sage. Emmison, M. and Smith, P. (2000) Researching the Visual, London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage. Flewitt, Dr. Rosie (2005) Conducting research with young children: some ethical considerations. Early Child Development and Care, 175, (6), Fraser, S. et al. (2004) (Eds.) Doing Research with Children and Young People. Buckingham: Open University Press. Gauntlet, D. and Holzworth, P(2006) Creative and visual methods for exploring identities: a conversation between David Gauntlett and Peter Holzwarth, Visual Studies. Grover, S. (2004). "Why Won't They Listen to Us?: On Giving Power and Voice to Children Participating in Social Research." Childhood 11(1): Hill, M. (2006) Childrens voices on ways of having a voice: childrens and young peoples perspectives on methods used in research and consultation, Childhood 13 (1): Hutchby, I. and Moran-Ellis, J. (1998) (Eds.) Children and Social Competence: Arenas of Action, London: The Falmer Press. Holt, L ) The Voices of Children: De-centring Empowering Researh Relations, Childrens Geographies 2 (1): 13-27

20 James,A. Jenks,C. and Prout,A. (1998) Theorizing Childhood, Cambridge: Polity Press. Lewis et al. (2004) (eds.) The Reality of Research with Children and Young People. Buckingham: Open University Press. Mayall,B. (Ed.) (1994) Childrens Childhoods: Observed and Experienced, London: The Falmer Press. Morrow, V. and Richards, M. (1996) The ethics of social research with children: An overview, Children and Society, 10 (2): Oakley,A. (1994) Women and Children First and Last: Parallels and Differences Between Childrens an Womens Studies, in B. Mayall (Ed.) (1994) Childrens Childhoods: Observed and Experienced, London: The Falmer Press. Papademas, Diana (2004) Editors Introduction: Ethics in Visual Research. Visual Studies, 19 (2): Pink, S. (2001) Doing Visual Ethnography. London: Sage. Pole, C., Mizen, P. and Bolton, A. (1999) Realising childrens agency in research: partners and participants, international journal of social research methodology 2 (1): Prout, A. and Christensen, P. (2002) Working with ethical symmetry in social research with children, Childhood, 9 (4):

21 Qvortrup,J., Brady,M., Sgritto,G. and Winterberger,H. (1994) Childhood Matters: Social Theory, Practice and Politics, Aldershot: Avebury Publishing. Rasmussen, K. (2004) Places for Children – Childrens Places, Childhood 11 (2): Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies. London: Sage. Renold, E. and Holland, S. (2006) Ethical intentions, reflections and expectations: participatory research with looked-after children and young people, conference paper presented at Childhood and Youth: Choice and Participation, Sheffield University, 2-5 July. Smith, R. and Monaghan, M. and Broad, B. (2002) Involving Young People as co- researchers: facing up to the methodological issues, 1 (2): Stafford, A, Laybourn, A, Hill, M and Walker, M (2003) Having a say, children and young people talk about consultation, Children and Society, 17 (50) Thorne, B. (1980) You Still Takin Notes?: Fieldwork and Problems of Informed Consent, Social Problems, 27 (3): Woodhead, M. and Montgomery, H. (eds.) (2003) Understanding Childhood: an interdisciplinary approach. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons. Young, L. and Barrett, H. (2001) Issues of Access and Identity: Adapting research methods with Kampala street children, Area 33 (2): Young, L. and Barrett, H. (2001) Adapting visual methods: action research with Kampala street children, Area 33 (2):

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