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:
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
Ethnography for the Digital Age 2002-2005 ESRC Research Methods Programme Project team: Amanda Coffey, Bella Dicks, Emma Renold, Mathew Williams, Bruce Mason, Bambo Soyinka
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
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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)
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).
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?)
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)
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.
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)
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