Author: Sara Bragg
Institution: Open University
Full reference: Bragg, S. (2010) Consulting Young People: A literature review. 2nd ed. Newcastle: Creativity, Culture and Education.
This review introduces readers to the field of consultation work with young people. It discusses why the views of young people should be sought, listened to and acted upon, citing a number of factors that make this an increasingly commonsense step to take. It identifies a range of issues to be taken into account in consulting young people, including ethical considerations. The author comments that ‘seeing children as ‘social actors’, not as passive participants, has profound implications for those who work with children, particularly in how power relations between adults and children are conceived and experienced’.
The review looks at the range of methods and methodologies available to those investigating the perspectives and opinions of young people, and at how the choice of approach affects the data collected and the results obtained. The author remarks that ‘It is disingenuous to see children as finding, discovering, or being given a voice, as if we can simply access their authentic core being. What they say depends on what they are asked, how they are asked it, ‘who’ they are invited to speak as in responding; and then, in turn, on the values and assumptions of the audience interpreting their ‘voices’.
The report recommends that close attention should be paid, at the outset, to establishing the parameters and purposes of consultative work, including, for instance, whether it gives young people a genuine role. The review includes case studies and indicates
some relevant resources and references which will serve as a guide for those who are interested in this area.