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Literature Review on Qualitative Methods and Standards for Engaging and Studying Independent Children in the Developing World

  • Stuart C. Aitken
  • Thomas Herman
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    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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    Paper provided by Innocenti Working Papers in its series Papers with number inwopa09/63.

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    Length: 77
    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ucf:inwopa:inwopa09/63
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    Order Information: Web: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/

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    1. LaDona Knigge & Meghan Cope, 2006. "Grounded Visualization: Integrating the Analysis of Qualitative and Quantitative Data through Grounded Theory and Visualization," Environment and Planning A, SAGE Publishing, vol. 38(11), pages 2021-2037, November.
    2. Sarah C. White, 2002. "From the politics of poverty to the politics of identity? Child rights and working children in Bangladesh," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(6), pages 725-735.
    3. Michael Edwards, 1996. "New approaches to children and development: Introduction and overview," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(6), pages 813-827.
    4. Sarah C. White, 2002. "Being, becoming and relationship: conceptual challenges of a child rights approach in development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(8), pages 1095-1104.
    5. M. F.C. Bourdillon, 2004. "Children in development," Progress in Development Studies, SAGE Publishing, vol. 4(2), pages 99-113, April.
    6. Kaime-Atterhög, Wanjiku & Ahlberg, Beth Maina, 2008. "Are street children beyond rehabilitation? Understanding the life situation of street boys through ethnographic methods in Nakuru, Kenya," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 1345-1354, December.
    7. LaDona Knigge & Meghan Cope, 2006. "Grounded visualization: integrating the analysis of qualitative and quantitative data through grounded theory and visualization," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 38(11), pages 2021-2037, November.
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