Phenomenological Participatory Research: Opportunities for 'Seeing' and Producing Meaning

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The methodological approach explored throughout this chapter is interpretative hermeneutic phenomenology, which seeks to make meaning out of everyday phenomena in the world (Willig, 2013). I yolk this approach with participatory research methods (Green, 2016). The chapter demonstrates how these methods were employed in order to study 3- to 6-year-old boys’ experiences in their early childhood education (ECE) environment. Using a visual approach to ‘make meaning from visual representations’ (White & Murray, 2016, p. 506), a range of visual data collection methods were utilised, including walking tours, cameras or iPads, and photo-production focus groups, with the aim of engaging boys in participatory research I explore how the use of visual data collection methods can enhance engagement and the power of children’s voice in research through verbal and non-verbal interactions. Capturing young children’s voices is not always easy to achieve, and creative participatory research with children is often unavailable and missing in literature; therefore, children’s own experiences are being ‘marginalised’ (Lomax, 2012, p. 106). It is also recognised that adults are not always best positioned to represent a child’s viewpoint. The use of visual data collection methods thus assisted in engaging participant boys in data collection activities and capturing their conceptions of their own learning environment (Einarsdottir, 2005). These visual methods seek to understand the child’s world and own unique perspective, as it is understood that research involving young children is imperative for understanding their lives (Clark & Statham, 2005; Graham et al., 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSeeing the World through Children’s Eyes
Subtitle of host publicationVisual Methodologies and Approaches to Research in the Early Years
EditorsE. Jayne White
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789004433328
ISBN (Print)9789004433304, 9789004433311
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameVisual Pedagogies, Methodologies, and Educational Research
ISSN (Print)2665-9034


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