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Journal cover: Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal

Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-2752

Online from: 1998

Subject Area: Marketing

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Recovering children's voices in consumer research

Document Information:
Title:Recovering children's voices in consumer research
Author(s):Pepukayi Chitakunye, (College of Law and Management Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa)
Citation:Pepukayi Chitakunye, (2012) "Recovering children's voices in consumer research", Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Vol. 15 Iss: 2, pp.206 - 224
Keywords:Adolescents, Children, Consumer behaviour, Consumer research, Co-research, Diet, Empowerment, Food practices, Food products, Multiple methods, United Kingdom, Visual diaries
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/13522751211215903 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The fieldwork reported here was undertaken during the author's PhD studies, fully supported by a research grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how children can be empowered in the research process, as active agents and key informants, in matters affecting their consumption.

Design/methodology/approach – Insights are drawn from a study that used multiple methods to explore children's everyday food consumption practices. The data set was gathered over a period of two years and included: 23 informant-generated visual diaries; seven online depth interviews; 15 school-based depth interviews; 42 days of school-based mealtime observations; and home-based mealtime observations with four families, each visited on five different occasions.

Findings – The paper uncovers how visual diaries can be used in combination with other methods to transform relationships between adults and children in the research encounter. The emergent transformations are organised around three core themes that include: children's authentic voices; multiplex reality; and power and control. It was also found that children were able to express their own interpretations and thoughts about their food consumption practices, rather than solely relying on the adult interpretations of their lives.

Originality/value – For scholars and practitioners, the paper offers an approach that provides an opportunity for children to participate in family food decision-making processes. It offers a cautionary tale not just about getting children to talk, but to allow children's voices to be heard in food policy initiatives, as well as in qualitative research and marketing. This poses a challenge to social researchers to think of different ways of engaging children in research.

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