Ethical Research Involving Children

Inviting the messy: Drawing methods and ‘children’s voices.’

Eldén, S. (2013). Inviting the messy: Drawing methods and ‘children’s voices’. Childhood, 20(1), pp. 66-81.

This article engages with the current debate in childhood research on children’s voices and representation in the research process. In this discussion, the frequent use of drawing techniques in childhood research is often highlighted as especially problematic. While agreeing that there is a need to critically examine the concept of ‘children’s voices’ and the production of ‘voices’ in research, the author argues for the possibility of and need for reflexive and creative research enabling the ‘voicing’ of others – such as children – and the possibilities of a sociological analysis of drawing methods. The argument is elaborated with a presentation and discussion of a current research project on children and care in Sweden. The author discusses two of the methods used in interviews with children – a draw-your-day exercise and concentric circles of closeness – which together help the child and the researcher narrativize practices and relationships of care that would otherwise be obscured. While the narratives that emerge cannot be viewed as providing ‘authentic’ insights into the caring situation of the child, they can be regarded as contributing to a more complex and multi-layered picture of care, which is a valuable contribution to the research field of family and interpersonal relationships. (The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Childhood 20/1, 06/2012 by SAGE Publications, Ltd., All rights reserved. © SAGE Publications, Ltd.).

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