Methodological immaturity in childhood research? Thinking through 'participatory methods'

Gallacher, Lesley-Anne and Gallagher, Michael (2008). Methodological immaturity in childhood research? Thinking through 'participatory methods'. Childhood, 15(4) pp. 499–516.




Much of the recent literature on social research with children advocates the use of participatory techniques. This article attempts to rethink such techniques in several ways. The authors argue that participatory approaches, in their insistence that children should take part in research, may in fact involve children in processes that aim to regulate them. Using examples drawn from their own work, the authors question whether participatory methods are necessary for children to exercise agency in research encounters. They conclude by suggesting that researchers working with children might benefit from an attitude of methodological immaturity.

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