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Ethnographic research with young people: methods and rapport

Sarah Tickle (Criminology Department, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)

Qualitative Research Journal

ISSN: 1443-9883

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




This paper accounts for, and reflects upon, the research design and the methodological approach adopted in ethnographic research with young people. In particular, the purpose of this paper is to reinforce the significance of conducting qualitative participatory and innovative methods with young people, alongside the value of rapport building.


Qualitative participatory methods are understood as the most appropriate way to empower and respect young people in the research process. Alongside such methods the ethnographic nature of the research is discussed in conveying the importance of rapport building with young people in the field. In doing so the paper examines a number of important considerations when conducting youth research.


The triangulation of qualitative methods was fundamental in exploring and understanding young people’s lives in each locality and allowed for deep and meaningful explorations of specific themes. The additional and complementary methods employed alongside traditional methods were particularly suited to understanding young people’s everyday lives, as complex experiences are not always conveyed through traditional methods alone. Conducting participatory methods produced narratives around safety, security and governance in public places.


Being reflexive and adapting to a research setting in order to enhance the process of building and maintaining trust with young people is the most important facet when conducting youth research. Giving careful consideration to the impact of a researcher’s presence in the field needs to be carefully navigated.



Tickle, S. (2017), "Ethnographic research with young people: methods and rapport", Qualitative Research Journal, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 66-76.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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