Renewed questions of ethics in research with and for children and young people
Session convenors: Sophie Hadfield-Hill (University of Birmingham) and Matt Finn (University of Exeter)
Responding to Elsbeth Robson’s (2018) call for continued reflection on ethical research with and for children and young people, and a decade after a on the topic in Children’s Geographies (Hopkins and Bell, 2008), it seems apposite to revisit and extend reflection on questions of ethics. There are three points of departure for a renewed focus on ethics. First, in relation to the diverse range of methodologies which Children’s Geographers are now employing in their research with children and young people, from mobile apps and technologies () to multisensory and multispecies methods (). With methodological innovation comes new ethical questions.
Second, as Children’s Geographers we are faced with new ethical issues in relation to researching phenomena that extend beyond unaided human perception and lifespans - plastic childhoods, climate change, nuclear fuel dependencies, waste and the Anthropocene (after Kraftl). Ongoing challenges around economic change (Pimlott-Wilson and Hall, 2017), racism, xenophobia (Horton and Kraftl, 2017) and the rise of the far-right highlight challenges about the ethics and politics of speaking for and with children, young people and families especially when what is vocalised by children and young people may reinforce oppressive conditions.
Third, the shifting research landscape should also prompt ethical questions. Changes in the academy have seen children’s and young people’s geographies become more established, and in some cases more mainstream in research and teaching (Philo, 2016; Mulvenna and Searcey, 2018). Funding for such research remains fraught in the context of the politicisation and re-colonisation of knowledge production () [cf GCRF where a number of the focus areas imply an attention to children’s lives and livelihoods]. With new funding opportunities come new ethical challenges. Then, at an institutional level there remain divergent practices in what kind of research is approved by ethics committees – particularly at the undergraduate level – raising questions about institutional processes, training and the experience of the children and young people who do take part in research. Indeed, what do we know about the long term benefits or harms on those who have taken part in research – where in many cases the children are now of adult age?
This session invites 10 minute papers that consider questions of ethics in relation to research with, for and by children, young people and families. We hope that it may result in a special issue in a journal.
If you are interested, please send a title, 250-word abstract and author details to:
The final deadline for submission is Friday 8th February 2018.
Dr Matt Finn
Senior Lecturer in Human Geography