How attitudes towards studying children have evolved Essay

How attitudes towards studying children have evolved Essay

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This assignment intends to identify how attitudes towards studying children have been evolving over time, whilst also identifying three key principles which should be aspired to when implementing such research. A range of theoretical perspectives and methodologies shall also be explored with examination on children’s roles and their involvement being evident throughout.
Researching children is in no way a new phenomenon however there has been a considerable shift in paradigm which has led to increasing amounts of research being carried out ‘with’ children rather than ‘on’ children (Christensen and James, 2008). This could be because of the growing interest in children’s rights to participate (James and Prout, 1997), which as suggested by O’kane (2008) occurred in the late 1980’s. However it is difficult to determine whether this shift in paradigm occurred as a result of natural changes in researcher’s attitudes or as a direct result of new legislation (2008). As at a similar time, in 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (UNCRC ) was enforced, giving children the right to participate and be heard in matters affecting their lives. This difficulty is evident by Schaffer (1990) suggesting developmental theories have strongly influenced policies thus indicating, as researcher’s knowledge on children and childhood develop attitudes and policy change. In contrast O’Kane (2008, p.125) states “changes reflect an acknowledgement of children’s rights”.

Views on childhood have and still continue to change (Waller, 2009). The contemporary view that children are empty vessels (Skinner, 1974) is being disregarded as children are no longer perceived as passive recipients in an adult world (O’Kane, 2008...


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...exist as if the researcher were to allow the cost to the individual to be weighed out by the benefit towards society (ref) the whole study would be compromised with both the researcher and their research losing validity in the eyes of others (Green, 2003).
In conclusion this assignment has identified that attitudes towards studying children have and still continue to change, although it is evident attitudes are still dominated by a western perspective and some changes have been more embraced than others. The findings within this assignment support the view that children now have a participatory role within research, however it also identifies that participation is only possible if the researchers fully embrace children as competent beings and aspires to the key principles of consent, listening and responding to children and adheres to ethical codes of conduct.

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