Video Ethnography with Kids: a Day in the Life

Some of you may find this useful.  UCB doesn’t own the book, unfortunately.

Hello Gustavo,
You have given me an opportunity to chime in to this list and say that
inspired by Joe Tobin’s ethnographic video investigation of preschool
education in three cultures, a group of colleagues and i embarked a
decade ago on a /Day in the Life/ project investigating early years
thriving around the globe. We filmed a full waking day in a number of
toddlers’ lives, created a compilation of filmed segments upon which we
then elicited reflections from the parents through iterative interviews
over the course of the study.  The project was published last year as:

Gillen, J. & Cameron, C.A. (Eds.). (2010). /International Perspectives
on Early Childhood Research: A Day in the Life./ Houndmills UK: Palgrave

Here’s a description of the book, if I might:

This book presents an innovative approach to studies of early childhood
and human culture.The /Day in the Life/ international, multidisciplinary
team collaboratively coauthored this study of young children and their
families in seven countries worldwide. A novel visual methodology was
used that filmed a /Day in the Life/ of seven thirty-month-old little
girls in Thailand, Canada, Peru, the UK, Italy, the US and Turkey.
Different paths to thriving are illustrated through words and images to
capture interactions of the children with their environments, including
caregivers, using multi-modal, participatory research methods….

Chapter 1
details the methodology and its applications in the diversity of
environments where it was applied. Chapter 2 identifies the challenges
and rewards of using video technology. In the context of this visual
methodology that privileges what is seen, Chapter 3 distinguishes the
importance of rhythmic and melodic exchanges in the development of
musicality in each location. Chapter 4 describes the wide range of
soothing resources brought to bear to enhance the toddlers’ emotional
security. The use of swings, hammocks and rocking chairs and various
gentle touches in their daily experiences and their identified safe
spaces for creative play are documented. Chapter 5 discovers eating
events to be similar to literacy events in the children’s negotiations
with their elders for space to explore while engaging in daily
nutritional events. Chapter 6 documents emergent literacy exchanges and
graphic drawing in early symbol system development.Chapter 7 explores
the use of humour in the little girls’ negotiating their places in
family spaces. The editors conclude the volume by ‘connecting the dots’
between Miller and Stiver’s (1997) ‘five important things’ in the
relational psychology of girls and women that include ‘a zest for life,
a vitality and a positive energy in reaction to the people, places and
events of their situations….’ (Cameron and Gillen, Chapter 8, pp.
155-156); the little girls also clearly evidenced apposite ‘knowledge,
power (effectiveness), a sense of worth, and a strong sense of
connection’. The book shows the toddler’s divergent and common strengths
in navigating their worlds. The investigators have been rewarded by
knowledge of the place of culture and context in early childhood
experiences, and this book passes this knowledge along.

Subsequently, a new interdisciplinary team of researchers has conducted
a similar project with 16 resilient teenagers in 4 countries abroad and
4 locations in Canada. We adapted the approach to respect the /habitus/
of adolescents, including the full day of filming, a photo elicitation
and numerous iterative interviews focused on the adolescents’
reflections on their experiences. It might not be necessary to say that
we have all found that collaborating using such a visual methodology to
be very helpful in providing rich data ripe for careful interpretive
cultural (NOT cross-cultural) work.  The approach has challenges which
we outline in the book and in journal articles in which we analyze the
many benefits and the not quite-so-many disadvantages.  I could direct
anybody interested to those papers as well.

Thanks for the opening to support Joe Tobin’s wonderful approach and to
share our satisfaction with descriptions of our adaptations of similar
methodologies for other goals.
Ann Cameron

On 11-04-11 8:18 PM, Gustavo Gomez wrote:
> Hi all,
> I am curious to get the opinions regarding the use of
> video ethnography data to conduct studies like this one .  In this study they
> recorded for 12hrs on one day and then edited the video to 20 minutes
> to bring out some provocative points in the conversation. Do you
> believe that one day of recording is enough to capture a true “day in
> the life?”  Also, is video better or worse than other visual methods.
> -Gustavo

Catherine Ann Cameron
Psychology Department,
2136 West Mall,
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C.,
V6T 1Z4
Fax: (604)822-6923

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