Ethical Research Involving Children

Infants as Others: Uncertainties, difficulties and (im)possibilities in researching infants’ lives.

Elwick, S., Bradley, B., & Sumsion, J. (2014). Infants as Others: Uncertainties, difficulties and (im)possibilities in researching infants’ lives. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 27(2), pp. 196-213.

Abstract: Increasingly, researchers are trying to understand what daily life is like for infants in non-parental care from the perspectives of the infants themselves. In this article, we argue that it is profoundly difficult, if not impossible, to know how infants experience their worlds with any certainty and, indeed, whether they do or do not possess well-worked out ‘perspectives’ on their experiences. Three key difficulties are discussed: firstly, the difficulty of interpreting non-verbal expressions and behaviour; secondly, the difficulty of knowing whether researchers’ constructions of the ‘infant’s perspective’ align with the infant’s experiences of their world; and, thirdly, the difficulty of providing opportunities for infants to disrupt researchers’ predetermined categories of understanding, meanings and expectations. Because of these difficulties, we argue that research endeavours to understand infants’ experiences in non-parental care should be seen as sites of ethical rather than epistemological practice. (Abstract © Taylor & Francis, reprinted by special permission from Taylor & Francis Group, a division of Informa UK, http://www.tandf.co.uk).

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