MO-TRAYL workshop at 2018 MACIMIDE conference: ‘Youth-Centric Methodologies: Moving Beyond the Adult Bias in Research’

Research about young people’s lives is often dominated by adult perspectives. As a result, little is known about young people’s own views and experiences of mobility and migration. This dilemma was the topic of a workshop organized by the PhD candidates of the MO-TRAYL Project (Mobility trajectories of young lives), Gladys Akom Ankobrey, Sarah Anschütz, Onallia Esther Osei, and Laura Ogden, in collaboration with Michaella Vanore (School of Governance, UNU-MERIT) at the 2018 MACIMIDE conference on 21 September 2018.

The workshop brought together scholars working across diverse projects in the fields of migration, citizenship and development. Together, the participants critically reflected on the ways in which they navigate and seek to understand young people’s worlds in their research. They also brainstormed practical solutions to concrete research challenges they have faced, such as accessing and engaging young people and the ethical challenges of ensuring informed consent.

Special guests Elisabetta Zontini (University of Nottingham) and Yatun Sastramidjaja (University of Amsterdam), along with Michaella Vanore, provided expert feedback in small-group discussions, and Prof. Valentina Mazzucato summarised the workshop’s highlights in the plenary session, ending with a ‘call to action’ for qualitative researchers to get active on university ethics boards to ensure that the specific ethical challenges faced by qualitative researchers are adequately represented and accommodated.

Discussion highlights included the ethical challenges of protecting young people’s interests while including their voices in research; the re-positioning of adult perspectives on youth as contextualising rather than authoritative accounts; and an agreement that it is more productive to talk about youth-centric approaches rather than specifically youth-centric methods. It was also heartening to hear that youth are already in consultation at different levels as an important stakeholder group for both practitioners and researchers across various fields.

The workshop provided a valuable opportunity for researchers working with young people to share challenges and best practices and together advance the conversation in this increasingly important research terrain. 


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