« Researching multi-local children : methodological and ethical challenges »


Du 3 au 5 avril 2017, nous avons accueilli 10 experts en études de l’enfance et de la jeunesse – sociologues, anthropologues, géographes… – , qui ont été invités à réfléchir avec nous autour d’un ensemble de méthodes de recherche innovantes qui permettent d’étudier les pratiques et représentations des enfants qui sont visés par le projet MobileKids (comme les méthodes visuelles, les cartes mentales, ou les méthodes « mobiles » ou « virtuelles ») , mais aussi, plus globalement, de tester les limites et apports de ces différentes méthodes au champ d’étude de la multi-localité. Les participants se sont également interrogés ensemble sur les enjeux et défis éthiques qui sont liés à la mise en œuvre de ces différentes méthodes de collecte et d’analyse des données. Avec la participation de: Jean-Yves Authier (Université Lyon II), Julia Brannen (University College London), Sandrine Depeau (Université Rennes II), Shirley Martin (University College York), Laura Merla (UCL), Nicolas Oppenchaim (Université François Rabelais), Michaela Schier (University of Innsbruck), Olivier Servais (UCL), Amy Stornaiuolo (University of Pennsylvania), Susie Weller (University of Southampton) and Ida Wentzel Winther (University of Aarhus).

Workshop « Researching multi-local children : methodological and ethical challenges »

Date: 3 au 5 avril 2017 Lieu: UCL Louvain-la-Neuve Organisateur: Cirfase



Monday 3 April 2017 – Room Doyen 22

9h00 – 9h30: Laura Merla (CIRFASE, Université Catholique de Louvain): Welcome address and short presentation of the ERC Starting Grant Project “Children in multi-local, post-separation families”

9h30 – 10h45: Julia Brannen (Institute of Education, University College London) – « Studying children in families and across contexts»

11h00 – 12h15: Michaela Schier (Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck) – « A multi-methodological approach to multi-locally living children in post-separation families»

13h15 – 14h30: Jean-Yves Authier (Centre Max Weber, Université Lyon 2) – « Understanding the city of children: a study in Paris and San Francisco »

14h45 – 16h00:  Susie Weller (University of Southampton) – « Using physical co-present and remote methods in youth research: reflections from a 10-year study »and projection of the ethnographic movie: “(Ex)changeable siblingship

16h45 – 18h00: Ida Wentzel Winther (Department of Education, University of Aarhus) – « (Ex)changeable childhood – how mobile and domestic lives are intertwined when children do mobility between families (post-separation families) »

Tuesday 4 April 2017 – Room Lecl.093

9h30 – 10h45: Amy Stornaiuolo (University of Pennsylvania) – « Digital Storytelling as Method: Tracing and Connecting Youth Voices »

11h00 – 12h15: Olivier Servais (LAAP, Université Catholique de Louvain) – « Doing digital ethnographies of online weddings in a videogame community. User’s video posted on internet as a new gate for fieldwork »

13h15 – 14h30: Sandrine Depeau (Université Rennes II) – « From traveled (spaces) to represented spaces by children in urban areas: Reflexive returns on some experimented methods»

14h30 – 15h45: Shirley Martin (University College Cork) – « From pockets of participation to peer-led research; the practical and ethical challenges of involving children as co-researchers »

16h00 – 17h30: Nicolas Oppenchaim (Université François Rabelais) – « Involving children in research co-constructed with their teachers: scientific and ethical issues »

Wednesday 5 April 2017 – Room Lecl.093

9h00 – 11h00: Roundtable: “Researching children with the consent of ethics committees: Critical and empirical reflections” introduced by Susie Weller

11h00 -12h00: General discussion: « Moving further: Plans for future collaborations »

Participants et Abstracts

Jean-Yves Authier

Centre Max Weber, Université Lyon 2 « Understanding the city of children: a study in Paris and San Francisco » I would like to introduce the methodological research plan I have conducted with several colleagues (Sonia Lehman-Frisch, Isabelle Mallon and Anaïs Collet) about the ways children live and inhabit cities, namely Paris and San Francisco. This study was made in two districts of each city: a rather wealthy neighborhood, and a poorer one. It involves children aged 9 to 11, and some of their parents. We recruited the children through their schools, a public school in the working-class district, and a private school in the other. Within each school, we have worked with a full class of 4h or 5th graders. The research protocol implied several steps:

  • – a preliminary interview with the teacher of the class under scrutiny,
  • – « a neighborhood workshop », organized over half a day at school, during which children had to draw their neighborhoods for example,
  • – individual interviews with the children of each class, based upon several photographs (of their districts, of the city),
  • – and interviews with some of these children’s parents.

I will present how we built this research plan and its different tools (for example the choice of the photographs for the interviews with the children), the realization of the study itself and the use of the above-mentioned tools in two different national contexts, with children having diverse social backgrounds. I will raise the questions of the interest, the difficulties and the limits of such a methodology Plus…

Julia Brannen

  Institute of Education, University College London «Studying children in families and across contexts» In this paper, I will revisit several family studies in which children of a range of ages were key participants in the research process. I examine the application of participatory methods in relation to the study of children and consider their relevance in the context of using a mix of different types of methods, including interviews, social network maps and visual methods. The studies I will draw upon are Children’s concepts of care in different types of families (2000), Fathers and sons across three generations (2015), and Food practices in working families (2016). I will argue that while the approaches adopted sought to enable children to participate actively as research informants, the role of the research analyst lies in bringing to the interpretation of data multiple perspectives, positioning and generational interests. More generally, it is argued that an ontological focus on social and family life as lived realities requires historical and structural contextualization as well as a focus on the socially constructed and agentic nature of family life. Plus…

Sandrine Depeau

  Université Rennes II « From traveled (spaces) to represented spaces by children in urban areas: Reflexive returns on some experimented methods » This presentation aims at considering the benefits and limits of several methods that were used with children in urban contexts to understand the conditions and variations of children’s independence/autonomy in urban context. Within an ecological approach of developmental psychology and by apprehending autonomy in cognitive, social, space and time dimensions, I shall focus on both processes: behaviors and representation in/of urban contexts. I will therefore rely on studies about children, illustrating different kinds of methods (one is in process in the research project MOBI’KIDS, the others are finished): The first one aims to accurately observe children’s spatial and temporal practices in urban settings in order to understand how routines contribute to their urban space learning, in particular, and their independence, in general. Children are aged 10 to 12 years old. With this study attempting to analyze children’s and their parents’ mobility and urban activities, the objective is show how children’s routines can help to detect some informal and unprogrammed situations in the daily flow of recurring activities which are also significant for children’s development. I will present the method, a survey-design combining GPS tracking and recall-interviews, by exploring the several steps and the associated tools in the data collection, and then I will discuss limits and advantages of this technique in full development. The second study concerns children’s spatial representations of urban context. In this field, several studies have shown how children’s urban behavior and mainly their urban exploration contribute to their spatial knowledge (Hart, 1979; Matthews, 1987; Rissotto & Tonucci, 2002; Depeau, 2003; Depeau & Ramadier, 2010). By considering the structural approach of representation and its value of indicator for apprehending autonomy, I will present methods associated with cognitive map (sketch map and Game of spatial reconstruction). By discussing interests of these two methods in practical and empirical dimensions, I will outline some kinds of analysis. Such illustrating results will allow to understand the possible links between behaviors and cognitive representation of children in urban environments. Plus…

Shirley Martin

  University College Cork « From pockets of participation to peer-led research; the practical and ethical challenges of involving children as co-researchers » This seminar will explore the practicalities of involving children as ‘co-researchers’ in participatory research projects. The seminar will examine a number of research methodologies, which are child-centred and engage children as partners in the research process and reflect on the challenges of employing these methodologies. The involvement of children in participatory research can inevitably lead to competing tensions between the need for academic research outputs and allowing the children to have control over the research process. These tensions and challenging power dynamics between the adult researchers and the children will be examined. It will reflect on a number of research projects which included the involvement of children in different stages of the research process from research design, inclusion in research advisory groups to their involvement in research outputs and research impacts. Plus…

Nicolas Oppenchaim

  Université François Rabelais « Involving children in co-constructed research with their teachers: what scientific and ethical benefits?” This presentation aims at considering the benefits of research conducted with children through their schools, as well as the precautions such research implies. I will therefore rely on three studies about children and teenagers (one of which is ongoing, the two others are finished): The first study is about teenagers’ mobility practices in sensitive urban zones, and implies several projects in middle and high schools. These projects, partially co-constructed with teachers, tackle three dimensions: they represent an introduction to sociology for the teenagers, as they have to hand around a questionnaire to other teenagers; second teens have to write texts and take pictures of their mobility; third, they also conduct semi-structured interviews themselves. The second study is still under construction, and tackles the way children put the social world in its place, and perceive three major scales of the social hierarchy (social class, gender and ethnicity). The project aims at working with third graders aged 8. Right now, we are working on the modalities of data collection: observation of children activities, during which the construction of distance between children happens; the questioning of children (most certainly in pairs); the type of questioning material to be used (drawing, movies…); and a possible initiation of the children to sociological thinking. The third project is a collective study about homeless children aged 6-12, during which most of the children haven’t been contacted through theirs schools (but instead through all kinds of social centers). This kind of study tends to point out the benefits of investigation in schools, and help us reflect upon the challenges of an out-of-school investigation. Thanks to these three studies, I will show that the access to children through their schools has an impact over the collected data. It implies creating a relationship of trust with both the children and the teachers. Even if the researcher is not totally assimilated to the school institution, he still benefits from the school framework and he has the opportunity to conduct long-term research. It also allows the teacher to imply the children to the research process, for example through an initiation to sociology or by making them conduct small investigations. We will stress the question of children involvement and its benefits, since this enables us to collect stronger data during later investigations Plus…

Michaela Schier

  Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck « A multi-methodological approach to multi-locally living children in post-separation families» In our empirical research project on multi-local post-separation families as well as on work-related multi-local families in Germany we used a multi-methodological approach to approach to the doing family and mobility practices, to the routines and coping strategies as well as to the emotions, meanings and experiences of being/doing home of multi-locally living children in post-separation families. A multi-sited approach (Marcus 1995) was applied, which meant following multiply situated children, their practices, connections, associations and relationships across space. A decision had to be made about observation sites, and therefore, as to which places and which parts of the sometimes very complex multi-local family networks should be directly included in the survey, and which indirectly. Besides stationary field research, a mobile and flexible mode of fieldwork was decided. Central to our research design was the use of theme-centred, narrative-generating interviews with all (multi-locally living) children that are aged 6 to 17 and the adults periodically living together with them. After the interviews, all the adults were given a short questionnaire, in which they are questioned about socio-demographic, financial and legal aspects. For access to the multi-locally living childrens’ perspective on their lives, their socio-spatial integration, and their practices of spatial appropriation, we reverted to the auto-photography or photo-interview method (Jorgenson & Sullivan 2009; Zartler & Richter 2012; Ziller 1990). Within the framework of the space-sensitive method socio-spatial network games (Schröder et al. 2010), as an instrument of qualitative ego-centred network analysis, the multi-locally living children were asked to construct the places as well as the people that are important for them, on a playing surface, and tell stories based on these. After the interviewees had finished the construction, targeted questions were put to them about the places, their importance and use, and about the persons, they had put on the platform. The network game also served as a stimulus to talk about spatial aspects of the multilocal everyday life, such as shuttling between places of residence, being ‘now here, now there’ or ‘where you feel at home’. In order to get onto the performative aspects of transitional situations and mobility practices in multi-local everyday life, additionally the video-supported, participant mobile observation of the being on the move from one location to the other, the period of preparations beforehand, the leave-taking and the period of arrival was applied. This meant dealing with the demands of participant observation both in private spaces and in public settings (Lareau 2003; Cele 2006). Following the discussion on mobile methods, the view was taken that researchers gain specific insights into mobility by being mobile themselves, as under conditions of situative presence (in situ) other, additional aspects of phenomena become apparent (Fincham et al. 2010; Büscher et al. 2011). The concrete procedure for mobile participant observation was based on methods that are currently being debated under the headings of ‘go or ride along’ (Kusenbach 2003) or ‘shadowing’ (Jiron 2011). At the workshop, I would like to concentrate my presentation on the last both methods: the video-supported, participant mobile observation as well as the socio-spatial network games. Plus…

Olivier Servais

  LAAP, Université Catholique de Louvain « Doing digital ethnographies of online weddings in a videogame community. User’s video posted on internet as a new gate for fieldwork » My research over the past four years has been focused particularly on online sociabilities in the virtual universe of the videogame World of Warcraft (WoW) as it is played in French. In this talk, I will focus my discussion on a significant question about digital ethnographies, the use of user-made videos via the case of cyber marriage in WoW. Using a corpus of online videos of weddings ceremonies, we will analyze how these kinds of video open a new way of doing for online ethnography, but more deeply for ethnography in general. In a first moment, I will consider how my singular ethnography on the Varimathras server, inside World of Warcraft, conducts me to use this form of home-made film. In a second time, I’ll focus on the difficulties and limits of such ethnographical material. It will be the opportunity to fix the conditions of use of these ethnographical data. In a last moment of discussion, I will focus on what I call “the return gate to ethnography”. Starting from this stock of audio-visual data, and for each video, I came back systematically to a mini-ethnography in order to contextualize this narrative. This work has been made via the different forums where these videos have been posted, via player’s websites, from direct contact with the persons involved in every video, or any other method useful to inform ethnographically the content of each film. Plus…

Amy Stornaiuolo

  University of Pennsylvania « Digital Storytelling as Method: Tracing and Connecting Youth Voices » Digital storytelling offers young people a powerful means of representing their worlds and authoring new identities, providing an important window for researchers to understand how multi-local children negotiate and represent themselves across different contexts. This talk will describe how digital storytelling can serve as a powerful research method to learn from young people about how they understand and position themselves in relation to other people, contexts, languages, and beliefs. In the talk, Dr. Stornaiuolo will examine how Web 2.0 functionalities open up new potentials, theoretical and practical, for young people to connect with others through these stories. She will discuss two research studies that connected children from different countries online, describing how participants used the stories agentively, to deliberately represent themselves and their worlds using multiple modes as they imagined themselves in relation to global peers. The talk will focus particularly on how researchers can use digital storytelling as an ethically-alert method for understanding youth identities, experiences, and representational practices through children’s eyes, positioning researchers to pay closer attention to how young people choose to represent themselves as they move in and across their worlds. Plus…

Susie Weller

  University of Southampton « Using physical co-present and remote methods in youth research: reflections from a 10-year study » Drawing on examples from the ‘Your Space’ project, a 10-year qualitative longitudinal study following the lives of 50 young people from across Britain, this presentation will explore the potentials and pitfalls of using creative methods and approaches in youth research. Considering practical steps, as well as, methodological and ethical issues, the emphasis will be two-fold. First, I will outline and reflect on the use of physical co-present interviewing that incorporates a ‘menu’ of flexible activities, such as network mapping and photography, from which participants can choose. Second, I will explore the use of remote approaches to interviewing incorporating digital communication technologies, such as Skype and FaceTime. Plus…

Ida Wentzel Winther

  Department of Education, University of Aarhus « (Ex)changeable childhood – how mobile and domestic lives are intertwined when children do mobility between families (post-separation families) » In this presentation, I wish to describe and analyze how a number of children in Denmark handle having to move between homes, parents and siblings (post-separation families), and how they practically, emotionally and socially navigate in this changeable landscape. My aim is to explore mobility, ‘homing’ and family as an embodied and emotional practice in which children employ different strategies. I focus on bodily micro-practices, routines and coping strategies, the intermediate space that occurs on their continual journeys, and the feeling of being dispensable. It is an ethnographic exploration of how mobile and domestic lives are intertwined – on a small scale and with siblings as key concepts. On the basis of qualitative interviews, dialogues and filmed observations of everyday life, we investigate how children and young people in contemporary Denmark engage emotionally in sibling relationships. In my presentation, I will show some clips from the ethnographic film: “(Ex)changeable Siblingship”, and reflect on the ethical challenges of researching children with a camera on my shoulder (using visual methods). Plus…