Literature Review on Qualitative Methods and Standards for Engaging and Studying Independent Children in the Developing World
This paper identifies and evaluates qualitative methods appropriate for use in conducting policy-relevant research on the experiences, motivations, agency and life histories of autonomous and semi-autonomous children and adolescents, including those who migrate independently of parents and adult guardians. First, the paper presents an overview of qualitative research practice and its potential to extend and deepen knowledge of children’s varied and independently negotiated life circumstances. It is argued that qualitative approaches are necessary to understand and meaningfully respond to the experiences of diverse physical, social and cultural environments. The second, longer section of the paper presents illustrative examples of qualitative research techniques. An illustrated inventory of research tools is presented with seven categories: surveys; interviews and focus groups; observation and participant observation; life histories and biographical methods; visual and textual methods; performance, play and arts-based methods; and virtual and computer-aided methods. The concluding section synthesizes the information presented and provides guidance on how to incorporate qualitative methods, and qualitative methodologies, into research on children who live independently of parents and adult guardians or who exercise autonomy in more limited contexts.
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