How do views about children shape research concerned with their lives? What different forms can research with children take? What ethical issues does it involve? How does it impact on policy and practice, and on the lives of children themselves? This book helps you to understand how research is designed and carried out to explore questions about the lives of children and young people. It tackles the methodological, practical and ethical challenges involved, and features examples of actual research that illustrate: • Different strategies for carrying out research • Common challenges that arise in the research process • Varying modes of engagement that researchers can adopt with participants and audiences; and • The impact that research can have on future studies, policy and practice.

Participant Observation

Participant observation
Heather Montgomery


It is always tempting with any research method to think that it holds the key to successful research: if only the method is right then the research will do well and the right techniques for working with children will provide the exact data that you want. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and this chapter does not provide a how-to guide on successful observational research with children. Instead it will discuss one particular method: participant observation. This is a central component of the ethnographic approach to research, and we will look at its strengths and limitations. The focus of the chapter will be on the theory behind participant observation, how it works in practice, and some of its benefits and ...

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