Episode 2: Doing Ethnography in Three Cities, What We Learnt and How it Changed Us

Welcome to the Connectors Study Podcast, a six-part series celebrating oral culture as a legitimate form of knowledge construction, explores various aspects of doing ethnographic research with children on the ERC funded Connectors Study (2014-2019). Researchers, Melissa Nolas, Christos Varvantakis, and Vinnarasan Aruldoss, all based at Goldsmiths, University of London at the time of recording, recount their experiences doing ethnography with children, the historical contingency of the research, sampling, and team work.

In this episode we join Melissa, Christos, and Vinnarasan as they discuss the rationale and execution of the study, the difficulties of making their methodology work, and how it has affected them as researchers and parents.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • What it means to look at children as everyday actors in politics and public life.
  • The perception of children’s roles in our society.
  • The massive cooperation required by families taking part in the study.
  • The new, messier methods required to make the data gathering possible and practical.
  • What can be gained from looking at children’s everyday life, especially outwith institutions like schools.
  • The process of developing relationships with families and where the line between friend and researcher lies.
  • Dealing with uncertainty on a day to day basis when gathering data and conducting interviews.
  • The new perspectives gained by the researchers and how it has affected them as parents.

The researchers:

Melissa Nolas
Melissa Nolas is an interdisciplinary social scientist, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Principal Investigator of the ERC funded Connectors Study. Her research focuses on childhood publics and children’s relationships to public life; child, youth, and family welfare, well-being and social support; civic and political practices across the life course; multimodal ethnography and publics creating methodologies. She has published widely on these topics. She is the co-editor of the online journal entanglements: experiments in multimodal ethnography.

Christos Varvantakis
Christos Varvantakis is an anthropologist, working as researcher at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has a BA in Sociology (University of Crete, Greece), an MA in Visual Anthropology (Goldsmiths, UK) and a PhD (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany). His research focuses on the intersections of childhood and public life, politics and urban environments, as well as on visual and multimodal research methodologies. He has carried out ethnographic research in Greece, India and Germany over the last 15 years. Christos is Head of Programming of Ethnofest, an international festival of ethnographic film held in Athens, Greece every year.

Vinnarasan Aruldoss
Vinnarasan Aruldoss is a Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He obtained his PhD in Social Policy at The University of Edinburgh and prior to that worked several years with a number of civil society organisations, government departments and multilateral agencies as a social development practitioner in India. He is interested in inter-disciplinary research that contributes knowledge to the broader domains of childhood, early years provision and social policy analysis. He has published mainly in the fields of sociology of childhood, early years education, political sociology and childhood policy.

Next time
In the next episode we will be looking at the historical contingency of the research and our researcher’s responses to it.

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