ISSN 1753-0849

Childhoods Today Online JournalChildhoods Today

An online journal for childhood studies

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Volume 5 Issue 1 - July 31, 2011

Contemporary British Chinese Parenting: Beyond Cultural Values

by Carmen Lau Clayton

Within the available research, the British Chinese community is often portrayed as being culturally homogenous, with traditional values and practices remaining influential. Existing literature depicts Confucian and collectivist principles as remaining strong within the British Chinese family, which inevitably affects parenting approaches, parent-child relationships and childhood experiences. In this article, PhD research findings suggest that British Chinese parents’ own childhood experiences, the valuing of the parent-child relationship, as well as awareness and acceptance of Westernisation also contributes towards child-rearing practices in the UK. Based on multiple semi-structured interviews with a diverse set of twelve British Chinese parents, this article explores Chinese parenting of the past and those of the present day. By highlighting the complexity of modern Chinese parenting decisions, this article offers a more holistic account of British Chinese family life and adds to our current knowledge of UK Chinese households.

‘Talk to me as a teenager’: Experiences of Friendship for Disabled Teenagers who Have Little or No Speech

by Mary Wickenden

This paper, focusing particularly on friendships, draws on data from a larger ethnographic study of the lives of physically disabled teenagers in England who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). At home these teenagers have rich fully reciprocated social relationships. In contrast, their social networks elsewhere are reduced compared with their peers, as making friends is quite difficult, even though they see themselves as friendly sociable people. Young people typically use talking to explore and construct their identities, to negotiate social relationships and to make friends. However AAC users who cannot use speech are more dependent on nonverbal communication, technology and the skills of mediators to interpret for and represent them. Thus who they can be is often masked by what they can do. The data illustrates the participants’ views on, and experiences of, friendships including issues relating to being ‘normal’ teenagers and being disabled, autonomy, trust, equality and reciprocity in friendships.

Changes of Position Cause Changes of Relation: Insights for Reflexive Ethnographic Research with Children

by Tadesse Jaleta Jirata

Ethnography has been one of the widely recommended methodologies in research with children. However, the implications of the dynamics of children’s positions for ethnographic research in rural contexts of Africa in general, and in Ethiopia in particular, have been marginally incorporated in the literature on childhood studies. As a result, a comprehensive presentation of the local reality of rural children in that part of the world has been less observable in academic discussions. In this paper, I seek to fill in this gap in methodological knowledge by discussing how an ethnographic approach can enable researchers to understand children’s lived experiences in their multiple places (for example, at home, school and the workplace) and reveal the impact of these various contexts on shaping children’s positions and their relationship with a researcher. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with children among the Guji people in Ethiopia, I argue that children have different social positions across their everyday places and it is when ethnography is based on reflexive research practices in line with children’s situations in these places that it can make better understanding of rural childhoods. I discuss how children’s social positions vary across workplaces, homes and schools and show the implication that this variation has for ethnographic research with children.