Canadian scholarship in childhood and youth studies: Young People's Views and Voice

Tuesday May 30 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
KHW 57

Session Code: CCY1A
Session Format: Regular session
Session Language: English
Research Cluster Affiliation: Children, Childhood And Youth
Session Categories: Regular Session

Within the sociology of childhood and youth there is a strong interest in foregrounding young people’s experiences and views. Papers in this session draw on a range of methodological approaches and diverse research contexts, but are united in their prioritization of young people’s voice as central to informing how we understand the lives of young people. Tags: Children And Youth

Organizers: Xiaobei Chen, Carleton University, Rebecca Raby, Brock University; Chair: Xiaobei Chen, Carleton University


Anuppiriya Sriskandarajah, University of Windsor

Civic Engagement and Youth Spirituality: Citizenship as Spiritual Practice

Given the scholarship in the more diverse and informal ways youth do politics, I sought to explore engagement among racialized youth in a ‘low-income’ neighbourhood in Toronto in a more open-ended way that reflected the circumstances of their living. I was less interested in formal politics, but rather the way in which young people’s engagement in their neighbourhood provided the source of belonging and connection that scholars argue is an important feature of citizenship (Yarwood 2014). In this paper, based on 16 months of ethnographic research, I examine an under researched element of youth citizenship; the role of spirituality. The dearth in the literature can partially be explained by the fact children and youth are not typically viewed as spiritual agents. In this paper I examine how youth conceptualize spirituality as a form of citizenship practice. Grounded in the works of anti-racist feminists such as Audre Lorde and Gloria Anzalua I show how youth draw on spirituality in their daily lives to cope with everyday oppressions. For these youth spirituality intersects with their art and informs their sense of activism or what they refer to as ‘artivism.’ I argue spirituality can inform a type of insurgent citizenship that questions systemic injustices while simultaneously acknowledging the importance of self-care. It produces a form of inclusionary politics steeped in spiritual practices.

Wolfgang Lehmann, Western University; Rebecca Raby, Brock University; Jane Helleiner, Brock University

“Every kid my age should work”: Young People’s Moral Discourses About Work

Children and young people’s work is the focus of a well-developed, global and transdisciplinary body of scholarship, but there is little Canadian research in this area, especially on young people’s perspectives on employment. We are addressing this gap through qualitative research about Canadian youth’s first or early paid employment experiences. Based on interviews with young people in three Canadian cities, this paper will focus on the strong moral framing of work experiences, as participants shared an idealized work ethic, and described themselves as gaining skills, freedom, maturity and/or responsibility through their work. We also critically assess how moral discourses about work may contribute to the development of an uncritical neoliberal sense of self in ways that may affect young people’s ability to resist unsafe and exploitative work practices.

Nicola Maguire, Ryerson University

Permission to Play: Revisiting Unstructured Outdoor Play Experiences

Playing outdoors is an essential component of childhood and child development. Children’s outdoor play often includes elements of risk and may sometimes result in the minor cuts and scrapes that are in keeping with childhood. Research reflects the positive value that unstructured outdoor play has in terms of children’s overall development. However, literature also highlights the impact of a societal focus on safety, which can limit young people’s access to the outdoors and the types of unstructured play that that they appear to enjoy. The apparent disconnect between children’s needs and the societal desire to keep children safe seems to put the agency and voice of children at risk. Through autoethnography, reflections from my own childhood will be explored in contrast to the types of outdoor play experiences that are available to children today. Drawing on my lived experiences, themes of place, belonging and autonomy will be examined, in the contexts of childhood and community.

Noah Kenneally, OISE, University of Toronto, Ryerson University

Maps and Cartoons: Making Research with Children Visible

Engaging with children in research has become a central methodological approach for research in the sociology of childhood, as a way of acknowledging children as social actors and negotiating adult-child power dynamics in respectful and ethical ways. Visual ethnographies present a range of tools that have enormous potential in engaging children in all aspects of research processes. Used in conjunction with more traditional ethnographic techniques, these methods can help to make children’s ideas and perspectives more visible and concrete, and engage children with the topics of inquiry in multiple ways (Bagnoli, 2009; Einarsdottir, Dockett and Perry, 2009; Farmer and Cepin, 2015; Tay-Lim and Lim, 2013). In this presentation I discuss the ways I use visual ethnographic methods in my current doctoral research. Inspired by the Mosaic approach (Clark and Moss, 2011), Barry’s (2015) work on drawing as research, and Atiles, Dominique-Maikell, and McKean’s (2014) exploration of concept maps as analysis and assessment tools, I consider how I use graphic elicitation – drawing, comics, and cartoons – and concept maps as data collection and analysis tools to engage the children and educators in two kindergarten classrooms in Toronto in an exploration of their ideas about and experiences of being children.