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ERIC Number: EJ788702
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 42
ISSN: ISSN-0885-6257
Listening to Children's Voices in Educational Research: Some Theoretical and Methodological Problems
Tangen, Reidun
European Journal of Special Needs Education, v23 n2 p157-166 May 2008
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in children's experiences and perspectives of their own lives. This interest has been stimulated by legal and political initiatives (e.g., the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child), and by theoretical developments in education and social science disciplines. Children are no longer viewed primarily as "becomings", but as "beings", whose ideas, experiences, choices and relationships are interesting in their own right. Children, like adults, are "social agents", who make sense of their experiences. This paper discusses the multi-level approach metaphorically termed "listening to children's voices". First, there is the methodological level - i.e., how to listen. However, this paper does not go into detail regarding what kinds of methods are suitable for grasping the sense of children's experiences. Second, studies of children's (or adults') experiences are underpinned by insider epistemology, the core of which is that insiders have a privileged access to knowledge of their own experiences. The question that will be addressed is what kind of knowledge is insider knowledge; two versions of insider epistemology are discussed in this paper. Third, the approach of listening to children is also underpinned by theory of the subject (or subjectivities). The paper briefly discusses five conceptions of the subject in terms of their possible implications for research on children's experiences and perspectives. It is argued that even though some definitions of the subject are directly opposed to each other, it is possible to combine some perspectives. The relational conception of the subject, and the theory of interactionism developed by Brian Fay may be helpful for developing knowledge of lived experience, especially when individuals and groups being studied are seemingly very different from the researcher. It is concluded that an open (or weak) thesis of insider epistemology and a relational theory of the subject can offer a powerful theoretical foundation for research on experiences of children, especially of children whose voices are seldom heard.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A