Child-led research on trust in social work Methodological reflections and preliminary findings
Department of Society and Globalisation Roskilde University Roskilde, Denmark
This paper reports from an explorative qualitative child-led examination of trust, which constitutes a first phase sub-project of a larger research project about trust in social work with children and youth.
Child-led research draws upon the new sociology of childhood that emphasises that research about children needs to include and give priority to the perspectives and knowledge of the children themselves qua their active participation, ideally in all stages of the research process from formulating research questions, over design, empirical work and analysis to dissemination. The approach is linked to the growing commitment to empower children, as well as to the epistemological insight that children posses a certain kind of knowledge about their own life and perspectives. The child-led research approach draws attention to and aims at working with the power relation existing in participatory research with children. Thus child-led research aims at child initiated and led cooperation between children and researchers rather than just using the children as informants. The paper discusses dilemmas and methodological dilemmas, challenges and potentials of fulfilling these aims.
The larger project, in which the child-les examination of trust is constitutes a first phase sub-project, takes its point of departure in previous research findings about children?s frustrations arising from distrust in social work. The objective of the first phase sub-project is to provide knowledge about children?s perspectives on trust, participation and citizenship: What do the children themselves see as problems, which possibilities, potentials and challenges do they find important, and what kind of research questions does this raise? The purpose is to facilitate children?s voice in the discourse about social work, and to let this voice inform and challenge the pre-understanding of the larger project. Based on reflections and experiences from this research, the paper discusses the intentions, dilemmas, potentials and methodological challenges of Child-led research. This includes a review of preliminary findings and a discussion about how these findings can influence further research about trust in social work.