The Vulnerability of Children and Prisoners in Social Science Research

  • Janeen PrinslooEmail author
  • Madaleen Claassens
  • Kalima Kalima
  • Mbongiseni Mdakane
Part of the Research Ethics Forum book series (REFF, volume 7)


The understanding of vulnerability in this chapter is informed by Ten Have’s approach to the concept. We consider how children and prisoners which are seen as vulnerable groups by researchers, have “double vulnerability” in common and explore the interrelated factors which impact their external and internal conditions of vulnerability. This is followed by a pragmatic consideration of the ethical aspects of doing research with these groups. We conclude the chapter highlighting the importance of including children and prisoners in research.


Vulnerability Ethics Autonomy Children Prisoners Participation 


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Further Readings

  1. Berman, G., Hart, J., O’Mathuna, D., Mattelone, E., Potts, A., O’Kane, C., Shusterman, J. & Tanner, T. (2016). What we know about ethical research involving children in humanitarian settings. An overview of principles, the literature and case studies. Retrieved from Accessed 9 Apr 2018.
  2. Charles, A., Rid, A., Davies, H., & Draper, H. (2014). Prisoners as research participants: Current practice and attitudes in the UK. Journal of Medical Ethics, 42(4), 246–252.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janeen Prinsloo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Madaleen Claassens
    • 2
  • Kalima Kalima
    • 3
  • Mbongiseni Mdakane
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Correctional ServicesJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.School of EducationUniversity of ZambiaLusakaZambia
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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