Learning from young people about their lives: using participatory methods to research the impacts of AIDS in southern Africa

Learning from young people about their lives: using participatory methods to research the impacts of AIDS in southern Africa

Methods of participatory research have become popular among children’s geographers as they are believed to enable young people to speak openly about their lives in unthreatening contexts. In this paper the authors reflect on their experience of using participatory methods to explore the sensitive topic of (indirect) impacts of AIDS on young people’s livelihoods in Malawi and Lesotho.
 
The paper examines how different methodological approaches generate varying knowledges of children’s lived realities; challenges of using ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ research assistants, place of group-based approaches in participatory research and ethical issues. The authors suggest that researchers of young people’s lives should take full account of the relationship between epistemology and methodology in selecting and employing methods appropriate to particular research questions.