Child-Centered Inquiry: A Chronicle
Child-centered inquiry has been influenced by a variety of sources. A central notion is that children should be studied as social actors in their own right. This idea was especially propelled by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child held in 1989, giving way to methodological innovation around the globe aimed at exploring children’s concerns and salient issues. A core dilemma of child-centered methods concerns whether investigators should take on completely child-like roles during research (“least-adult”), or alternatively act out a more mature stance in the course of seeking connection with children. This dilemma ties to common calls for reflexivity by the researcher and active participation by the young. Ironically, while children sometimes participate as active co-researchers in child-centered inquiry, under current U.S. Institutional Review Board (IRB) practices, they are given only secondary status in consenting to a study.
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