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All research has the potential to affect people, ethnographers delve into the life of the every day of their participants, they walk their walk, talk their talk and strive…
All research has the potential to affect people, ethnographers delve into the life of the every day of their participants, they walk their walk, talk their talk and strive for valid, in-depth contextualised data, gathered over a longitudinal and often intimate basis. Ethnography is explorative and inductive. It is messy, unpredictable and complex. Ethnography conducted with young people and children adds to the intricacy of managing ethically sound research practice within and beyond the field. In recent years, ethnographies with children, young people and families have become increasingly prominent, yet few scholars have written about conducting ethnographic research with children and young people (Albon & Barley, 2021; Levey, 2009; Mayeza, 2017). The ethnographer that works with children and young people needs to be aware that the power relationship between adults and children operates in complex and sometimes surprising ways and so needs to be ethically aware, ethically reactive and be prepared to be ethically challenged.
Can children give their informed consent to participate in a research study, or can they only provide assent? This chapter explores this tricky question by drawing on…
Can children give their informed consent to participate in a research study, or can they only provide assent? This chapter explores this tricky question by drawing on three stages of a longitudinal ethnography within a multi-ethnic school in the north of England. Illustrative examples are used to show how the ability to give consent is not based on age alone, but rather on children’s experiences and confidence, the type of research conducted, and the researcher’s own expertise in communicating with children. The chapter provides examples of children’s active and ongoing negotiation of consent and through their choice to withdraw consent, ‘correct’ the researcher’s interpretations, actively produce their own written field notes and reflect on data collected as part of fieldwork. To facilitate consent, children were given time and space to familiarise themselves with the researcher and the study. Actively involving children in all stages of the study highlighted the importance of familiarisation and participation to the processes of informed consent to ensure children’s ongoing and meaningful involvement in the research.
This chapter reflects on how ethics was managed in Basque educational ethnographic research. Specifically, it addresses researcher positionality when relating to research…
This chapter reflects on how ethics was managed in Basque educational ethnographic research. Specifically, it addresses researcher positionality when relating to research collaborators in an attempt to manage inclusive ethics in situ. Nowadays, most research is evaluated by an ethical review board that ensures adequate research practice. However, unexpected fieldwork events need to be managed in the field, and this chapter addresses the impact of these events on the relationship between researchers and collaborators. Influenced by a post-qualitative stance we posit that research collaborators should be included in the research process. It reflects on the data collected during an ongoing ethnographic study with higher education students. The method used includes several interview meetings between researchers and collaborators, multimodal representations of collaborators' learning, and participants' self-observations. In the interviews, participants' discourses, representations, and self-observations were collaboratively analysed. The ethnographic data from these meetings show how researchers use a collaborative approach to practise ethics. Through such meetings, the knowledge derived from the ethnographic data is co-constructed in a research relationship where participants engage in dialogue and negotiation about the discourse created around them. Based on this relationship, we propose the concept of inclusive ethics as a process requiring an honest, inclusive, and collaborative relationship with the research subject.
In this final chapter, I offer some conclusions relating to the issues discussed across the volume as a whole. Drawing together common as well as contrasting themes from…
In this final chapter, I offer some conclusions relating to the issues discussed across the volume as a whole. Drawing together common as well as contrasting themes from the different empirical accounts that have been presented by the different authors, I argue for a reflexive and necessarily unpredictable mode of research ethics in the context of ethnographies of education.
This chapter outlines the history of ethical regulation and considers how the position of ethics has shifted. The intent of this book is to explore novice and accomplished…
This chapter outlines the history of ethical regulation and considers how the position of ethics has shifted. The intent of this book is to explore novice and accomplished ethnographers ‘everyday, real-life’ ethical challenges and considerations against a backdrop of theoretical and ethical guideline scrutiny.
Employing ethnographic methods online offers additional understanding of how online contexts are connected to education (Rusk, 2019; Ståhl & Kaihovirta, 2019; Ståhl & Rusk, 2020). As society evolves, new challenges arise for ethnography to claim its position as a methodology for understanding human sociality. For example, the definition of fieldwork might become blurred when the researcher has constant access to the field from their computer, and accessing a participant's perspective is made more complex when there is no, or limited, face-to-face interaction with participants (Beaulieu, 2004; Shumar & Madison, 2013). This chapter discusses some of the challenges experienced during the process of employing ethnographic methods with students playing the online multiplayer video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO, Valve Corporation & Hidden Path Entertainment, 2012) within an educational context. The challenges included maintaining participant integrity in terms of gaining informed consent from players that became co-observed, defining privacy online during the analysis and in dissemination and portraying participants accurately despite stakeholder interests. These challenges are discussed in relation to maintaining research ethics in situ together with participants and with the research context in mind. The intention is not to portray our approach as best practice, but rather to highlight and discuss the challenges faced.
Drawing on research findings from an ethnography conducted with young children, exploring notions of difference, identity and peer interactions, this study uncovers how…
Drawing on research findings from an ethnography conducted with young children, exploring notions of difference, identity and peer interactions, this study uncovers how four- and five-year-olds initiated and maintained peer interactions within a linguistically diverse Early Years setting in the North of England.
This study adopted an applied ethnographic approach to gain the emic perspectives of children in the reception class at Sunnyside over a full academic year. Over the course of this school year I spent a day a week with the class undertaking non-participant and participant observations alongside unstructured informal conversations and focused on visual research activities.
Language and identity were closely intertwined in children’s patterns of interaction at Sunnyside. For some children language had a functional value while for others it was a symbolic marker of identity. Similarly, for some children their minority language held valuable linguistic capital while for others their first or home language was viewed as being something to shun. For all the children language was only one factor that played a role in initiating and maintaining their peer interactions at school. These implications will be discussed in this chapter.
Situated in a particular local context, this study provides an in-depth insight into the experiences of a linguistically diverse group of children from North and Sub-Saharan African countries who have come together in a single school setting where Somali and Arabic are the two key languages that are spoken by children in the class. This chapter discusses how these children viewed languages within the classroom context and how other identity markers associated with ethnicity, religion and nationality intersected with language within the context of ‘being friends’ at Sunnyside.
This chapter derives from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a town close to Delhi, India. The research focused on schooling experiences of children from communities that…
This chapter derives from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in a town close to Delhi, India. The research focused on schooling experiences of children from communities that are traditionally considered underprivileged. It required shadowing children throughout the day. This chapter reports on the experiences of researching with children and the ways in which child participation and research ethics emerged during the year of fieldwork. The idea of ‘child participation’ in the research process – within the Indian context is explored. The discourse around ethics in the current literature is primarily concerned with ideas of consent, gatekeeping and respecting children's rights. This chapter discusses the significance of the cultural contexts of the field in shaping the research ethics and developing what ‘child participation’ meant for children and their parents within this specific cultural context. It does so by elaborating on contradictions that existed between the way the ethnographer positioned the child and the way children are positioned in families and schools, where children's participation, opinion and consent are often silently presumed by the parents much more so than in a Euro-American context. Children are viewed as active agents, knowledgeable about their own positions in the research process.
This chapter explores the ethical dilemmas that emerged in situ from an ethnographic study in collaboration with Latin American children and youngsters. It was developed…
This chapter explores the ethical dilemmas that emerged in situ from an ethnographic study in collaboration with Latin American children and youngsters. It was developed in the challenging conditions of isolation and lockdown, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In such times, a group of eight researchers from different geographical locations in the Americas looked into the ways children reorganise, reconstruct and reinterpret their daily lives in social isolation. The methodological approach, which enabled dialogue and conversation, began through a system of correspondence – in oral, written, recorded, drawn, photographed and audiovisual forms – among Latin American children. The expectations about the viability of this fieldwork modality brought, from the beginning, ethical challenges that required continuous adjustments, agreements, rectifications, adaptations and explicit reflection on such ethical aspects. Here we focus on three challenges that we analyse individually, although in practice they were interconnected. The first one was the dilemma regarding perception and use of time. The second ethical challenge is based on the fact that we recruited the young participants through friendships and kinship networks that each of the eight researchers previously had. The third challenge was connected to the decision to communicate through letters (a markedly confessional, private and intimate epistolary genre) that were both intervened by our ‘special’ position and also taken as ethnographic documents. In our fieldwork, in the specific spatial and temporal situations we worked, we understand the self as emerging from intersubjectivity and knowledge relations as co-created between researcher and researched. Thus, ethical decisions are made during the research process itself and, for us, in situ ethics entails a reciprocal commitment, between children, youth and adults as co-researchers, to adjust themselves to the developments and boundaries of the ethnographic field. This also allowed the participants to manage the adjustments in this specific and situated context that circumscribed everybody, seeking answers in conversations and paying careful attention to the situation.