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Research with Child Street Traders: Building Trust and Sensitivity

Ethics and Integrity in Research with Children and Young People

ISBN: 978-1-80043-401-1, eISBN: 978-1-80043-400-4

Publication date: 4 November 2021


This chapter draws on experiences of research with children who work as street traders in Nigeria, with a focus on establishing trust and the related concepts of power and rights. The discussion stems from a study which used a rights-based approach to gather children’s accounts of their experiences of working as street traders within a large market in a Nigerian city. Seventeen children (aged 10–15 years) took part in semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Children talked about difficult situations as they undertook tiring work and received conflicting messages about the importance of making an economic contribution to the family, versus the need to attend school. Researching these accounts entailed a number of ethical challenges, which centred on access and recruitment; consent/assent and participation; sensitivity of research; and researcher positionality. First, recruitment was limited to children with parents/guardians who could give consent, with assent from the children. Second, a relationship of trust had to be negotiated between the researcher and the participating children. This involved acknowledging different elements of adult–child positionality, which had implications for the ways in which children participated in the study. Third, sensitivity was essential given that children could discuss attitudes or activities, which were not universally seen as acceptable. Fourth, researcher positionality influenced all aspects of the study, including access to children, how relationships were forged and the interpretation of data. All of these challenges relied heavily on building trust with children. However, the authors illustrate how trust must be employed cautiously in research with children, given adult–child power disparities.



Burch, S. and Osaiyuwu, A.B. (2021), "Research with Child Street Traders: Building Trust and Sensitivity", Spencer, G. (Ed.) Ethics and Integrity in Research with Children and Young People (Advances in Research Ethics and Integrity, Vol. 7), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 121-133.



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