American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 46, Issue 1–2, pp 215–227 | Cite as

Children as Research Collaborators: Issues and Reflections from a Mobility Study in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Gina PorterEmail author
  • Kate Hampshire
  • Michael Bourdillon
  • Elsbeth Robson
  • Alister Munthali
  • Albert Abane
  • Mac Mashiri
Original Paper


This paper reflects on issues raised by work with children in an ongoing child mobility study in three sub-Saharan African countries: Ghana, Malawi and South Africa. There are now 70 school pupils of varying ages involved in the project, but the paper is particularly concerned with the participation of those children 14 years and under. We examine the significant ethical issues associated with working with younger child researchers, and linked questions concerning the spaces open to them in African contexts where local cultural constructions of childhood and associated economic imperatives (which commonly drive family and household endeavour) help shape the attitudes of adults to children’s rights and responsibilities and inter-generational power relations.


Child researchers Africa Ethics Mobility Transport Power relations 



This study is funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council and Department for International Development. Our grateful thanks to the child researchers who are central to the work: Ghana: Cyril Agbley, Doreenda Agyeman, Daniel Aidoo-Bossah, Emmanuel Cornelius Ampong, Lois Antwe, Exonoyski Ntim Asare, Emmanuel Owusu Danquah, Evans Egyir, Eoudia Kumi-Yeboah, Joshua Opoku, Emmanuel Teye Owusu, Lawrence Tabiaa, Charity Tawiah, Dorothy Tawiah, Victoria Yeboah, Malawi: Manes Banda, Alie Bwanali, Tendai Chiwawula, Lawrence Godfrey, Mary Kamphangwe, Dalitso Kaunda, Gift Kawanga, Bernadetta Kuchonde, Christopher Lyson, Ludovicco Magola, Esther Malimusi, Christopher Mbeza, Anthony Merrick, Brasho Moffart, Towera Mwaungulu, Smart Ng’oma, Alinafe Ntewa, Tionge Phiri, Georgina Pwere, Thokozani Tembo, Nenani Thinbo, Micklina Welesani, Monica William, Tisunge Zuwaki, South Africa: Nokulunga Bara, Boniswa Protect Chauke, Buhle Dambuza, Noluvo Diko, Xhalisile Elliot, Kholwakazi Joseph, Nthahla Kelem, Tholakele Kelem, Vuyiseka Keyisi, Esrom Kgapola, Hope Lehabe Zintle Mapetshana, Nelly Mathebula, Nosiphiwo Mbanzi, Sannie Molefe, Matshidiso Motaung, Zimkhita Moyakhe, Mzoyolo Matsili, Ntlatywa Mlondolozi, Sello Mothupi, Zanaxolo Mseswa, Thembinkosi Msimanga, Mandilakhe Mtambeki, Sinathi Ndamashe, Felicia Ntuli, Odwa Noraqa, Christina Ramongane, Noah Setshedi, Wisdom Shuma, Ncumisa Thungilizwe. We also gratefully acknowledge the assistance of RAs: Ghana: Ekow Afful-Wellington, Samuel Agblorti, Samuel Asiedu Owusu, Esia-Donkoh, Regina Obilie Odei, Mercy Otsin, Augustine Tanle, Malawi: Linny Kachama, Bryan Mkandawire, Matthews Nkosi, Bernie Zakeyo, South Africa: Sipho Dube, Goodhope Maponya, Andisiwe Bango, Nokholo Hlezupondo, Busi Luwaca, Noma Mlomo. We have also benefited from the comments of reviewers on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Society for Community Research and Action 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gina Porter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kate Hampshire
    • 1
  • Michael Bourdillon
    • 2
  • Elsbeth Robson
    • 3
  • Alister Munthali
    • 3
  • Albert Abane
    • 4
  • Mac Mashiri
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of AnthropoloogyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social SciencesWassenaarThe Netherlands
  3. 3.University of MalawiZombaMalawi
  4. 4.University of Cape CoastCape CoastGhana
  5. 5.CSIRPretoriaSouth Africa

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