Picture this? Locating children’s voices in participatory visual research

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Our paper considers the analytical challenges engendered by participatory research with children. Drawing on images created by and of children as part of research undertaken with them, the paper reflects on the dual challenges in making sense of children’s everyday experiences as captured in children’s visual research and the ethical and representational challenges that emerge in making these experiences visible. The visual material considered in this paper originates from a series of creative participatory research projects undertaken in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in England during 2010-2013 involving 24 children as co-researchers. These studies, which produced over 1,000 digital photographs and two participatory films, capture the young peoples’ experiences about what constitutes a good place to live (friendship and
belonging, parks and green spaces) and what threatens this.
A key objective of each project was to enable young people to give voice to their everyday experiences whilst recognising and being transparent about the challenges that this presents. This paper focuses on these challenges as we experienced them in the interpretation and dissemination of the visual outputs from the research and, more particularly, how we reconciled the different ‘voices’ which seek to give voice to images. As we explore, images of children generate strong reactions in audiences which may obscure the children’s intentions. Here we suggest that an analytic approach which recognises, and makes visible, children as both agentic in creating a visual landscape of childhood and “knowing” in their engagement with the research
and its audiences can help resolve these tensions. In reading children’s images as performative and their engagement as agentic it is possible to navigate the different interpretations on offer and, in so doing ensure that their voices remain at the heart of the research process and make visible their everyday lives, friendships and relationships .
Period7 Jun 2016
Event titleThe VII Conference on Childhood Studies: Childhood in everyday life
Event typeConference
Conference number7
LocationTurku, FinlandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational