Ethical Research Involving Children

Adopting a participatory methodology and post-structural epistemology: Reflections on a research project with young people

Watson, L., & Fox, R. (2018). Adopting a participatory methodology and post-structural epistemology: Reflections on a research project with young people. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 28(6), pp.471-482.

Abstract: This paper discusses the methodological processes of a qualitative PhD research project with young people aged between 12 and 17 years who are the primary carer for a family member with physical or mental health problems. The field work was conducted over 2 years in rural Australia and involved one-on-one discussions with young carers in their family homes. The research was grounded in post-structural epistemology that questioned existing literature and challenged the assumptions of childhood on which it is based. Consequently, it sought to pursue a different approach to young carer research, one that adopted a participatory methodology that positioned the young people as co-researchers. Young people were involved in the design and conduct of the research and the analysis process. This paper critiques the research space, reflecting on what was made possible and what was limited or not fully realised. The paper discusses the tensions between post-structural theory and participatory methodology that reveal limitations to collaboration between adult researchers and young people. (Abstract published by arrangement with Wiley Subscription Services, Inc.).