Working with ethical symmetry in social research with children.

Christensen, P., & Prout, A. (2002). Working with ethical symmetry in social research with children. Childhood, 9(4). pp. 477-497.

Abstract: The perspective of `children as social actors’ has created a field with new ethical dilemmas and responsibilities for researchers within the social study of childhood. These concern, for example, the greater potential for conflicts of interest, often hitherto unrecognized, between children and other actors. It is suggested to work from a perspective of `ethical symmetry’ in research relationships with children while taking into account the social and cultural positioning of children in their particular circumstances. An illustrative example is given of the ethical issues that can arise when children are seen as social actors. It is argued that codes of ethics, reflexivity and collective professional responsibility are all required in order to meet the ethical demands that flow from these newer perspectives on children. It is proposed, therefore, that researchers develop a set of strategic values within which individual researchers can anchor the tactics required in their everyday practice in order to work reflexively. Finally, it is suggested that, in order to develop ethical practice for the future, dialogue is required on two levels: between researchers as a means of collectively sharing experience; and between researchers and children as participants in the ongoing research process. (The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Childhood, 9/4, 11/2002 by SAGE Publications, Ltd., All rights reserved. © Sage Publications Ltd.)

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