Children as ethnographers - Kristen E. Cheney

Children as ethnographers: Reflections on the importance of participatory research in assessing orphans’ needs.

Kristen E. Cheney, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Critiques of child participation within aid programming suggest that it is superficial and insubstantive for the fulfilment of children’s rights. By employing former child research participants as youth research assistants, the collaborative research design developed for my research project on the survival strategies of African orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) has yielded insights with implications for policy and practice that could not be gained without the extended ethnographic inclusion of children, as both participants and researchers. In this article, I share my reflections on doing participatory ethnography with children and youth to demonstrate that ethnographic research is appropriate to the tasks of increasing both children’s participation and the effectiveness of children’s rights especially when it models children’s participation in its own research design. Further, I argue that involving young people in research can yield greater ownership of organizational practice and become transformative of young people and their relationships with their communities.


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