Making the Critical Links: Strategies for Connecting Marginalised Children's Action Research with European Citizenship

Larkins, Cath orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2999-6916 (2016) Making the Critical Links: Strategies for Connecting Marginalised Children's Action Research with European Citizenship. Revista de Asistenţă Socială, XV (2/2016). pp. 11-23. ISSN 1583-0608

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Although European political collectivities are distant from children’s everyday lives, through action research and critical realist theory building, marginalised children can direct research and action to understand the structural patterns of inequality that they face, and to try to overcome these. The work of Freire and Bhaskar can be combined into a three step process in which children identify issues, expand their understanding of these through reflection and action, then act for change testing the new knowledge that they have acquired. Provision of these opportunities to children can be guided by a broad range of literature to enable children to have safe spaces in which to control research resources, set agendas and establish frameworks for analysis. This paper outlines a methodology that can enable Roma, refugee, disabled children and children in contact with social services to research these issues themselves. The article is grounded in the ontological and epistemological understandings provided by critical realism and supplemented of participatory action research. It recommends a methodology that combines the critical realism and Freire’s (1973) approach to enable participatory action research. The article reflects on research resources, support from community groups, and activism by adult researchers needed to provide children with ongoing opportunities for action and direct communication so that their challenge of structural inequalities can lead to greater opportunities for knowledge production and change.

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