The Kids Are Alright: They Have Been Included for Years

  • Ben Whitburn


In this chapter, I examine the roles and limitations to the incitement of voice in qualitative interviews in disabled children’s childhood studies. I argue that voice and experience are mediated concepts—both by life circumstances and the power relations between the researcher and participants present in interviews. To demonstrate my argument, I work through my experiences of interviewing a group of 23 young people with disabilities who attended secondary schools in Spain. Of the group, only roughly a third responded to any extent to questions I put to them. I suggest that interviews that might appear on the surface to be unrewarding might speak volumes in their silences. I conclude by reconceptualising the interview, in which I advance alternative ideas to the providence of voice in qualitative research.



I want to thank each of the young people who participated in this phase of the research for their contribution to the project, no matter how large or small. In addition, I extend my sincere thanks to Cecilia Simon, Gerardo Echeita, and Soledad Rappoport from the Autonomous University of Madrid for supporting my access to the field, and translation as required. Finally, I want to thank the editors of this volume—Katherine, Tillie, and Kirsty—for their important work in this space, and for having supported my development of the chapter.


I adopt person-first language as a personal preference; however, at the same time, the Department of Human Services in the Australian State Government of Victoria (where I reside) recommends professionals use person-first representations for consistency when discussing disability in public discourse (see,-programs-and-projects/projects-and-initiatives/disability-services/reporting-it-right). For me, turning any condition—albeit race, colour, or creed—into an adjective that defines the person on the whole is to misappropriate their subjecthood.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Whitburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Deakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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