Participant observation in elementary school: Child's play? difficulties and opportunities to access the worlds of childhood

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Abstract

This paper collects a set of methodological aspects taken from the doctoral research of the author, which focuses on the construction of social identity in immigrant children at the Catalan coastal region of El Maresme (Spain). The author intends to contribute to the overcoming of methodological restrictions when conducting participant observation among children, which is strongly conditioned by an adult-centric power structure that mediates child-adult relationships in our culture, and considers children as unfinished, future-oriented versions of adults, or adults-in-the-making. Drawing on the author's own experiences this paper discusses some strategic practices that became extremely useful for building the rapport necessary to access these children's cultures and to understand children as an active and creative social group developing their own, and unique, systems of relations and meanings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-244
JournalAIBR Revista de Antropologia Iberoamericana
Volume4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009

Keywords

  • Childhood cultures
  • Participant observation
  • Primary school
  • School ethnography

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