Child Language Brokering in Healthcare: Exploring the Intersection of Power and Age in mediation practices

Iqbal, Humera and Crafter, Sarah (2022). Child Language Brokering in Healthcare: Exploring the Intersection of Power and Age in mediation practices. Journal of Child and Family Studies (Early access).

Abstract

This paper aims to explore young people’s perspectives of a vignette scenario based on child language brokering in a healthcare setting (the doctor’s office), when the topic of discussion is sensitive and potentially conflictual. Child Language brokers are migrant young people who translate and interpret for family members, peers and the local community. Often the spaces in which children broker (e.g. healthcare, banks), referred to here as a ‘contact zone’ (Pratt 1991), are dominated by adults in positions of authority and unequal power differentials. The language broker and those they are brokering for may be in a less powerful position because of their migration status and/or age status. Findings are presented from 29 individual qualitative vignette-based interviews with language brokers (aged 13-16) in the United Kingdom. The analysis highlights how young people play a vital role in protecting those for whom they broker, often navigating sophisticated social interactions in institutions of unequal power. Equally, they carry a weight of responsibility trying to manage complicated, perhaps morally questionable, situations. By asking brokers to reflect on a real-life healthcare scenario, we are advancing understanding of migrant youth brokers and the families they support in their day to day lives.

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