Conference Agenda

Session
RN04_02: Children, power, politics and dialogue
Time:
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Pascale Garnier, University Paris 13
Location: GM.327
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road
Time allocation: 15' presentation directly followed by 5' consecutive discussion on the paper presented, and at the end of the session 10' general discussion of all papers presented in the session.

Presentations

Narratives of Exclusion, Narratives of Belonging. Irish Social Work at the Intersection between Adults' and Children's Voices.

Federico Farini1, Angela Scollan2

1University of Northampton, United Kingdom; 2Middlesex University, United Kingdom

Five years since the creation of the Child and Family Agency that embodied the cultural shift towards in Irish Social Work towards the recognition of children as active participants in making decisions that affect their lives(1)(2), a research was designed to explore the spaces of children’s voices in Irish Social Services. The methodology consisted in 8 interviews with children aged 12 to 14 to promote children’s narratives around their interactions with Social Workers. The narratives collected allowed a phenomenological description of the interplay between adults’ voices and children’s voices(3)(4).

The presentation discusses three types of narratives: 1) narratives of boundaries between children and social workers along the lines of a difficult construction of trust based on ephemeral interactions; 2) narratives of barriers for children’s voices that are subordinated to the Family-State partnership, indicating the ambiguous status of rights-based policies. These narratives appear to be tightly intertwined. More eccentric is the position of narratives of belonging to child-adult relationships based on affective expectations(5), when children are promoted as the main partner of the Social Workers and their authority raised consequently to circumstances affecting their family.

Sociological research argues that between representations of childhood and practices of working with children the gap regards the actual spaces for children’s voices(6)(7).

Whilst children-adult partnership and empowerment of children’s voices underpin Irish policies, yet children seem to recognise boundaries that alienate from, as well as barriers that prevent, a meaningful involvement in decisions that affect their life. However, in situations when family-State partnership is precluded Services need to upgrade children’s authority. The risk of trusting children can foster their sense of belonging to the relationship with the Social Worker.



Teens and Brexit in Northern Ireland: A Generational Chasm

Madeleine Leonard

Queens University Belfast, United Kingdom

On June 23rd 2016, a referendum was held on Brexit – the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. A narrow majority across the UK (51.9%) voted to leave. The results of the referendum have been contentious especially in Northern Ireland since the region retains a border with the Republic of Ireland which remains within the EU. Since teenagers under 18 years of age had no voting rights, the implications of Brexit decided by adult voters in mainland UK has been imposed on them by the voting choices of an older generation. The purpose of this presentation is to report on a qualitative study of teenagers aged 15-16 living in Belfast on their attitudes to this referendum and its implications for their future lives. The data draws on reflections from teenagers on how they feel about adults voting in this referendum and if they feel they made the right choice. Young people were asked if they felt they would be better-off or worse-off outside the EU and if they had the vote would they have voted to remain or leave. Initial findings suggest teenagers feel that they have been let down by the older generation and that this will have a negative material impact on their future lives where they will be economically worse off in a post-Brexit Northern Ireland. A generational theoretical framework will be utilised to discuss the findings.



Children and Young People’s Voice: Moving from Monologue to Dialogue

Dan Moxon1,2,3,

1People Dialogue and Change; 2Centre for Children and Young People's Participation - University of Central Lancashire; 3Pool of European Youth Researchers Co-ordinated by the Partnership between the Council of Europe and the European Union in the field of youth

Popular constructions of child participation, portray ‘voice’ as something expressed by children and listened to by adults or decision makers. This conceptualises voice monologically with meaning emerging from within the child and expressed to the adult through language.

The limitation of this have been highlighted previously with many calling for more emphasis on dialogue with children and the relational aspects of participation. Drawing on Bakhtin's theory of the utterance (Todorov 1984), and psychosocial concepts of intersubjectivity and recognition this paper will explore what a dialogical approach to child participation might look like, both in theory and practice. It is based on in depth analysis of small group dialogue within a co-production project between children and practitioners considered in the light of poststructural and psychosocial theory.

The paper proposes new ways in which practitioners and researchers might understand and engage in child and youth participation. It will demonstrate how we can understand children's voices as constructed intersubjectively with the adults they are in dialogue with. This involves the adult and child triangulating and shaping both of their identities with each other and their understanding of the external world. It explores questions of the boundaries of thought and voice between one person and another, and how these may relate to child and adults when engaged in dialogue, as well as how dialogue enables the recognition of children as active subjects.

Todorov, T. (1984) Mikhail Bakhtin: the dialogical principle, Manchester, Manchester University Press.



Building Belonging: The power of an opportunity

Sam Frankel, Sally McNamee

King's University College, Canada

This paper considers power and how it informs belonging with implications for children’s meaning making when they engage with a boundary or barrier.

The paper will reflect on the structure/agency dialogue as it explores children’s meaning making. It will highlight the extent to which researchers must engage with ‘elements of agency’ and how through this we can look at a range of processes that shape children’s sense of belonging. Drawing off the notion of intra- generagency (Leonard 2016) - this paper will focus specifically on how perceptions of power influence agentic action or reaction.

Reflections on self and other highlights themes such as risk and capital and can disclose feelings of power/lack of power. With this it offers an opportunity to examine the nature of actions and the ways in which children might come to establish, reinforce, maintain, or discard a sense of belonging within the context of certain relationships. Notably, combining this with barriers and boundaries brings into focus the multilayered process that come to inform children’s decision making and how this connects with a moral component as children assess the acceptability of the situation they are engaged with.

This paper will touch on these themes in relation to children’s perspectives on everyday relationships as well as topics such as Brexit. It considers the way in which children’s sense of belonging and their moral competence to explore what is and is not acceptable is more informed by a search for possibilities to build relationships rather than reject them.