The Experience of Power Relationships for Young People in Care. Developing an Ethical, Shortitudinal and Cross-National Approach to Researching Everyday Life

Hélène Join-Lambert, Janet Boddy & Rachel Thomson - Forum: Qualitative Social Research

Abstract: Across national contexts, research shows that young people who live in child protection facilities often have negative experiences of power relations. In this article we look for a suitable method which takes account of power relations while investigating young people's perspectives on their everyday lives. We first present the results of an international methodological literature review concerned with the study of everyday life of young people, including ethical discussions arising among researchers. Drawing on this, our own research devised a shortitudinal, qualitative and cross-national approach which was designed to empower young participants during the research process. Sixteen young people living in care in France and in England participated in this project. Here we discuss the ways in which this approach functioned to give participants control—over the use they made of the research tools, over the topics that were discussed, and over the spaces in which research data were generated. Some of the data show how young people's choices reflect the areas where they feel powerful. We argue that using this method enabled insights into the ways in which young people were able to create or protect agentic spaces within the constrained everyday lives of child protection.