Rejecting 'the child', embracing 'childhood': conceptual and methodological issues for researching with children

Timothy P. Williams, Justin Rogers

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It has been well established within contemporary social studies of childhood that (a) childhood is a social construction, and (b) children are to be considered social agents capable of producing valid data about their own experience. Yet, while these principles resonate with social work scholars on a theoretical basis, there remains a need to consider how social work researchers might better incorporate this theoretical perspective into research methodologies and fieldwork strategies. This discussion paper seeks to address this gap.
This paper is divided into two key sections. The first considers how notions of ‘childhood’ as a social construction diverges from normative, uniform, and universal ideas of what might otherwise constitute ‘the child.’ The second part of this paper then considers this discussion in regards to social work research. It considers the extent to which childhood scholarship has been used within the discipline of social work and illustrates this point by drawing upon recent contributions to foster care literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-744
JournalInternational Social Work
Issue number6
Early online date5 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016


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