Volume 3 Issue 2 - December 10, 2009
The existence of children and adolescents living and circulating in street situations is a recurrent global urban phenomenon that, despite worldwide commonalities, has garnered special attention in poverty-stricken regions like Latin America. Brazilian academic research has helped redefine how such youth are studied and portrayed. This article illustrates how research that views children and youth as social actors with agency has been carried out, using as an example a study of children and youth in street situations in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The authors advocate that by thinking of these children as individual social actors and contributors with specific needs unique to their life stories, such research can have an important impact on the formulation of public policies and future research.
In her recent article Sana M. Nakata (2008) engages with Hannah Arendt’s (1959) separation between social and political realms, pondering on children’s potential for political agency. By critically examining the interpretations that Arendt makes in her essay concerning the events of the ‘Little Rock’ case, Nakata argues that children should be understood as political actors in their own right. Taking up this argument, this article discusses children’s role in social and political realms by suggesting that, besides being political agents in public conflicts, children can also be found as political selves in more general terms in all of their everyday environments. This claim blurs the line between ‘the social’ and ‘the political’, and at the same time disputes the separation of public and private as discussed in Nakata’s article. However, it also suggests the need to redefine these boundaries, to avoid inflating the concept of politics as a whole.
“Improper” participatory child research: Morally bad, or not? Reflections from the “Reconstructing Cambodian Childhoods” study
This article explores the author’s doctoral research experiences in order to reflect on whether participatory child research that involves children to a lesser extent is necessarily morally inferior to that which is child-initiated and led. It argues that in certain circumstances, conducting so-called ‘proper’ participatory child research is neither feasible nor desirable. Drawing on critical ethnographic research carried out in the rapidly modernizing tourist town of Siem Reap, Cambodia, the intricacies of involving children in the collection, analysis and writing-up of primary data are highlighted in order to illustrate the multiple methodological, professional and ethical challenges faced by researchers wishing to undertake participatory projects in Majority World settings.