Around the table with policymakers: Giving voice to children in contexts of poverty and deprivation

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Increasingly, children are seen as social actors who are knowledgeable about issues that concern their lives, both in research and policymaking. However, this approach is not without challenges, particularly in relation to sensitive topics like poverty. One key challenge relates to how to involve children effectively so that their stories are actually listened to and acted upon by policymakers. This article reflects on the potential of photovoice as a method to make explicit children’s narratives about their lives and to inform policymakers of children’s perspectives. We involved two groups of children living in contexts of poverty and deprivation in urban areas of the Netherlands, supporting them to refine their narrative and presentation through photography. The children were brought into contact with policymakers after they had gained experience as photographers and experiential experts. The policymakers found their narratives compelling, and there is evidence that the children’s perspectives were taken on board in local government. Exhibition of the photographs using a specially designed table was also found to be an effective addition to the photovoice method. We conclude that photovoice can be successfully used to facilitate dialogue between children and policymakers, but that its use requires time, creativity and reflexivity.




Sarti, A., Schalkers, I., Bunders, J. F. G., & Dedding, C. (2018). Around the table with policymakers: Giving voice to children in contexts of poverty and deprivation. Action Research, 16(4), 396–413.

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