Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

Transforming Subjectivity When Aiming for Mutually Transformative Processes in Research with Children

Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

Transforming Subjectivity When Aiming for Mutually Transformative Processes in Research with Children

Article excerpt


The aim of this paper is to investigate how children use their participation in research as a potential transformative social practice in everyday life. The concept of transformative social practice will he discussed in relation to the notion of transformation. Through empirical examples provided by Holly (12) and Oliver (11), the article argues that research processes open up possibilities for understanding ourselves (researchers and participants) in new ways 'Life Mapping ' - as dialogical method in research with children - will he presented and reflected upon as a way for children to develop different understandings of themselves, their families, and everyday life. This emphasizes the connection between the use of child-relevant methodologies and how specific children can bring dialogues from the research process in to play in their everyday lives. Data is drawn from a qualitative study and is a part of a PhD project studying children 's everyday lives with two households as a result of parental divorce. The project involves ten children aged 8-12 and their parents.


Interviewer: Have you ever missed your dad when you were at your mom's house?

Oliver: Yeah

Interviewer: What did you do?

Oliver: I just don't let myself think about it

The protagonists of this article are children whose parents are divorced. Because of that, their everyday lives are split between two households in different time-sharing arrangements. The children have their own ways of dealing with possibilities and dilemmas connected to these living conditions and these 'ways' are not to be generalized and understood out of context. Oliver's parents have been divorced for four years. They are very fond of his time-shared living arrangements, having him and his brother in a seven-day shuttle. It is in that complex light Oliver's quotation must be comprehended. His missing the other parent is not an explicated part of his narrative, it is not something he can actively articulate or manage. It just is.

When inviting Oliver to join the research project, he was hesitant. His mother, though, thought it would be interesting for him to participate and to talk about his everyday life with two households.

Children's agendas for participating in research are various. In this present study, some of the children expressed a need to talk about a part of their life they could not share with others (the time before the divorce), a few articulated a curiosity of being part of 'research', as well wanting to 'help' the researcher understand life with time-shared living arrangements. Their specific ways of participating in the research have triggered reflections on their subjective motives and agendas. The researcher's agenda, for that matter, was again different. First of all, it was the ethical and scientific aim to gain knowledge about premises of childhood called time-shared living arrangements from the children's perspectives. Second, it was an attempt to make the research process a joint and dialogical space for investigating everyday life from different adolescent perspectives - to provide a platform for the children to express and articulate their experiences.

The aim of this article is, first of all, to offer new ways of studying the link between children's everyday life and research, where research processes have the potential of being transformative social practices. It is argued that the research process provides space for dialog, (joint) reflection and exploration of different ways to understanding oneself and may promote changes in relation to problematic situations. The main intent is to challenge the general (adult) assumption about 'time-shared' children through the issues the children highlight as significant, as possibilities and dilemmas in their everyday life, rather than the agendas different adults have on behalf of the children.

This present project is to be seen in the light of a growing concern of children's well being in case of parental divorce. …

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