Participant Observations of Children’s Communities: Exploring Subjective Aspects of Social Practice

Charlotte Højholt, Dorte Kousholt

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This article contributes to ongoing discussions in psychology about how to explore psychological phenomena as embedded in social practice. While recognising the valuable contributions from ethnographic methodology, we argue that ethnographic explorations in psychology can be developed further in order to shed light on psychological problems in practice. As an exemplary empirical field, we draw on studies of the everyday life of children and how children’s problems in school can be understood and explored as part of their conduct of everyday life across contexts and together with others. Through
concrete examples, we elucidate an approach where theoretical concepts guide how researchers conduct observations. It is concluded that such situated observations are at odds with a tendency in psychology to focus separately on isolated individual characteristics. Situated observations thus shift awareness from categorisations of individual children to conflictual social interplay between persons in social practice.
TidsskriftQualitative Research in Psychology
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)316 - 334
StatusUdgivet - 2014


  • children’s everyday life; participant observation; researcher position; social

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