Four cornerstones of the ethnography of children

Mirja Köngäs, Kaarina Määttä

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How to conduct childhood research from the children’s point of view? Among various methods, ethnography has proven to be a method by which researchers are able to find the reality of children's lives and symbolic messages within the reality of children. The researcher must be open to set aside his / her adult-like thinking and jump right into children’s experiences, feelings, and interactions to find the understanding of child-centered answers. How is this done? We divide the critical stages of ethnographic childhood research into four: 1) acquiring material, 2) assuming the role of a researcher, 3) reaching the child’s voice, and 4) describing the results to open up the world of children. This article opens up a discussion also about researchers’ preparedness to self-reflect and ethical perspectives in ethnographic childhood research. Ethnographic research helps to see a child’s world and can thus contribute to children’s wellbeing and education.
Translated title of the contributionEtnografisen lapsuustutkimuksen neljä virstanpylvästä
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Education Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ethnography
  • children
  • childhood research
  • child orientation

Field of science

  • General and teacher education


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