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A child-centred approach to childhood poverty and social exclusion -PhD Thesis-


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This thesis places children at the centre of the research process to develop an understanding of childhood poverty and social exclusion that is grounded in children's own accounts of their lives. The study examines historical and contemporary representations of children in poverty, and takes a critical, child-centred, look at current anti-poverty policies.
For the empirical part of the study child-centred research methods were chosen to explore the economic, social and relational impact of poverty and social exclusion on children's lives. Forty in-depth interviews were conducted with children living in families in receipt of Income Support. The interviews covered children's perceptions of their material, social and familial lives. In addition, seventeen parents were interviewed about issues related to their children's lives. The child-centred approach continued with secondary analysis of the BHPS Youth Survey, which explored whether Income Support/JSA children differed from other children in the sample, in their perceptions of school.
Children's accounts reveal severely restricted social environments and limited access to economic and material resources. Opportunities for social engagement and participation in shared activities were constrained, affecting social lives and social networks. Within school children highlighted fears of bullying and difference, compounded by inadequate resources for full participation in social and academic life. The quantitative data reveals significant differences between Income Support/JSA children and their non-benefit counterparts, with many Income Support/JSA children indicating disillusionment and disengagement with themselves as students and with their schools.
Increased Income Support levels and non-stigmatising provision of welfare-in-kind, targeted directly at children, and informed by children's own perceptions of need, is recommended to facilitate children's social inclusion and integration. The findings also inform the development of a conceptual framework with which to conceive a child-centred approach to childhood poverty and social exclusion, one that could incorporate children's own meanings and perspectives.


Young People and Poverty


not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only


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