Centre for the Analysis of Social Policy

Understanding Childhoods - A qualitative longitudinal research project with low income children


Principal Investiagtor: Tess Ridge

Research Team: Larissa Pople and Jim Davis (The Children's Society)

Funder: The Children's Society

Duration: October 2013 - ongoing


Departmental themes
Institute for Policy Research themes
Useful websites

Find out more about this project

Name: Prof Tess Ridge
Title: Honorary Professor
Department: Dept of Social and Policy Sciences
E-mail: ssstmr@bath.ac.uk

Project rationale and aims

This project involves the development of a unique qualitative longitudinal study (QLS) of low-income childhood in England. The study focuses on the lives and experiences of a cohort of children and young people as they move through their childhoods, growing and changing whilst negotiating conditions of poverty and social exclusion within their schools, homes and neighbourhoods. The study will explore over time how these low-income children manage their lives and reveal the social and economic environments in which they experience their childhoods and their perceptions of their needs and the issues that concern them.

It is a rare opportunity to understand the everyday and potentially cumulative impact of childhood poverty as children in the study age and develop their personal and social identities; facing key transitions from childhood to young adulthood, within school and between schools, and ultimately from school into the wider world.

The on-going study will be a central component of a research programme on children’s perspectives and experiences of poverty, which is being developed to contribute to The Children’s Society’s strategic goals in relation to child poverty. The study will interact with, but be separate from, The Children’s Commission. However, it will address issues identified by both the commission and the wider evidence gathering strategy that informs the commission. It will also in turn feed children’s concerns, views and issues back into the commission for consideration and the development of further insight for strategy.

As the study develops over time, it will broaden and deepen, as the data gathered reflects the diversity and complexity of children’s lives. The aim of the study is to build a unique data set consisting of both repeated cross sectional individual wave data and rich, thick longitudinal data providing temporal and dynamic insights into contemporary childhood under conditions of disadvantage.