Methodological Issues in Researching Childhood and Children's Lives and its Consequences for Child Policy
Dr. Betz, Tanja
Arbeitsstelle Kinder- und Jugendpolitik Deutsches Jugendinstitut e. V. München, Deutschland
Children's Surveys are an increasingly common access to the research of children's lives and childhood.
Some childhood researchers are convinced that Children's Surveys allow to listen to children as persons of their own right. They see Children's Surveys as the direct and outspoken information of children about their life. Based on the results of the research findings a "briefed" child policy could be developed.
However, the adults' conceptions and images of children and childhood flow into childhood studies, i.e. into the conceptual considerations as well as into empirical research design, selection of indicators, method of collecting data and interpretation. The access to children and childhood has little in common with an "authentic" description - unaffected by adults - of the actual life of children. In fact, the constructions of childhood are connected with the (public) images of childhood today and the adult scientists' conceptions about "a successful life of a child". Amongst others, this constructions become obvious through the reference to concepts of children's needs, the sample and the concrete research questions.
It is essential to reflect these images, assumptions and constructions more intensively within the quantitative research process and to explore the effects of these images - in particular for specific groups of children which are of equal political relevance. This, in fact, evokes the question of how claims of child policies can be derived from these research findings.