The importance of an organic process in ethnographic research: Working with children in a physical activity setting

Journal article


Gubby, L. 2021. The importance of an organic process in ethnographic research: Working with children in a physical activity setting . Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy. https://doi.org/10.1080/17408989.2021.1955096
AuthorsGubby, L.
Abstract

Background: In comparison to adult-centred research in physical activity, there are far fewer studies which concentrate on hearing children’s voices in physical activity research (Noonan et al. 2016). Additionally, despite a number of studies which utilise a child-centred approach, the number of papers which concentrate on the complexities when conducting research with young people are extremely limited.

Purpose: To consider power relationships between adult researchers and young participants. Also, to provide empirical examples of considerations related to an organic research process and the complexities that may arise in research with children.

Data Collection and Analysis: An ethnographic approach is deemed useful when conducting research with children (Davis and Watson 2017), but particular considerations need to be taken into account as an adult conducting research with young people. The data for this paper was drawn from a year-long ethnographic study with junior korfball players (aged 11-13 years of age). The study involved participant observation where the researcher’s role was ‘coaches’ help’. Nine semi-structured interviews took place 10-months into the study, and numerous informal conversations occurred throughout the research. Some of Foucault’s ideas related power were utilised to discuss the way relationships were negotiated with children to maintain a child-centred approach to the research.

Final Thoughts: Adopting an organic approach to research may help reduce young participants’ perceptions of adult power. Adopting a Foucauldian lens can also heighten awareness of power divisions and aid the researcher’s sensitivity to their own use of techniques of power whilst in the field. Additionally, an organic approach can also help facilitate child-centred research which empowers participants and supports their voices being heard.

KeywordsChild-centred research; Physical activity; Children; Ethnography; Foucault
Year2021
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis
ISSN1740-8989
1742-5786
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/17408989.2021.1955096
Official URLhttps://doi.org/10.1080/17408989.2021.1955096
Publication dates
Online16 Jul 2021
Publication process dates
Deposited14 Jul 2021
Accepted29 Jun 2021
Accepted author manuscript
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File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
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