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 outline their process for sampling children during their research. All three encountered unique challenges as they recruited families for a long-term project that required intimate access to the daily lives of its participants.
Topics covered in this episode:
- How the researchers found children to take part in the study.
- Determining how many families could be studied continuously at one time.
- How both Melissa and Christos dealt with finding families through means other than the school system.
- Vinnarasan talks about navigating a city and using a language he was unfamiliar with.
- Getting a wider sample of families by travelling across the cities and using professional networks.
- Why the age of the children wasn’t a major focus of the research.
- Retaining families during such a long research process.
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 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 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.
During the next episode we will be looking at a day in the life of each of the three researchers.