This power point outlines the issues currently being debated on whether it is ethically acceptable to include children in ethnographic research. In what is being called the Anthropology of Childhoods, anthropologists including Christina Toren, David M. Rosen, Jill E. Korbin, and Myra Bluebond-Langner as well as Robert V. Levine who works in psychology and Allison James who’s work is in sociology debate the issues with allowing the voice of children to be written on.
Children just as much as any other individual lead a unique voice and perspective to our understanding of thought. What the issue is comes from the long standing emic view anthropologists aim to obtain. With the universal age for minors being set at under 18 this severely limits studies in other countries where definition of childhood varies and is not in conjuncture with the western idea of childhood. Christina Toren adds an important point in starting that “children are born into a world in the making that was already rendered meaningful in all its material aspects, and with time they are making these meanings anew.” What the worry however is that removing the protection of the universal age of 18 we then risk taking vulnerability away from the child which does not go over well in countries of warn torn areas where children have no other option rather than to engage in the violence of war.
Allison James explains that complexities in trying to give children voice is ensuring that authenticity is presented which can be hard to find due to the language children speak. The fear as well of political agenda interfering with the way children are represented, the voice of the child as James states wields a rhetorical power that has yet to be fully articulated. The question of how to protect as well as study children at the same time is currently where the three fields struggling to answer. Ethnographic ability must understand the specific language that is needed to interpret the language of children to stay true to member’s meanings. Rosen asks if children are no longer passive recipients of action are they viewed as innocent victims of political circumstance who should be protected and forgiven? Or as moral agents who should be held responsible for their actions? He goes on to explain that failure to acknowledge children’s decisions to take conscious action in violence would fail to respect children and to recognize their agency.
Toren insists that children are meaning makers and while Europe has largely accepted this view and backed away from adults’ statements on childhood the United States has not. On one side listening to children’s statements helps in aiding socialization and sociocultural reproduction and change. In Toren’s claims that the views of children are beneficial James’ asks how to go about correctly writing children’s perspectives. These has stated by the individuals included are all areas that ethnographers always take into account but when children are involved it demands a certain increased level of care when interpreting their thoughts.