Call for papers: TASA Youth symposium

Call for papers:

The Ethics of Engagement, Participation and Representation

TASA Youth 2019 Symposium

University of Melbourne, 21st February 2019

Organised by TASA’s Sociology of Youth thematic group with support from TASA and the Youth Research Centre

Research ethics is a central concern and ongoing challenge for many sociologists studying young people. The sociology of youth has historically been deeply implicated in ethical concerns due to its engagement with groups that are by default seen as ‘vulnerable’. More recently, as youth sociologists have been at the forefront of developing digital, participatory and creative methods in their research with young people, new sets of ethical questions have arisen. For these reasons, youth researchers often face challenges and setbacks when engaging with university or organisation-based ethics committees. Besides this formal side of research ethics, ethical challenges also constantly arise in research practice, through the ‘ethically important moments’ (Guillemin & Gillam 2004) that occur during the course of the research and when presenting our findings. Such moments have always been part of empirical (qualitative) research, but new challenges occur with the emergence of new methods.

This symposium engages with research ethics across the full spectrum of the research process: from engagement, to participation, through to representation. We ask presenters to engage with the intersecting ethical challenges and imperatives that they encounter within their own research. In so doing, the symposium aims to push forward both debate and practice in relation to emerging frontiers of research ethics, and to revitalise the enduring ethical imperatives that characterise youth research. By bringing together researchers at differing career stages, and using differing methods, the event will promote generative discussion of how research ethics can be embedded within every stage of the research process, and can be navigated in the context of everyday practice.

We have invited a number of speakers to address some of these questions and stimulate discussion:

  • Professor Marilys Guillemin, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Helen Cahill, University of Melbourne
  • Senior Lecturer Bronwyn Wood, University of Wellington
  • Senior Lecturer Steven Threadgold, University of Newcastle
  • Dr Joni Meenagh, RMIT University

We now call for abstracts that address the following questions:

  • How can we work productively with both university and external ethics committees and procedures?
  • How do we contend with ethical imperatives (e.g. representation of participants and data) that extend beyond the purview of ethics committees and formal processes?
  • How can we balance competing ethical imperatives in our everyday research practice?
  • How do we engage with new frontiers of ethics, and new ethical challenges that accompany emerging research topics and spaces?

This one-day symposium offers an opportunity for scholars to present work broadly pertaining to the above provocations. We especially encourage submissions from RHD candidates and ECRs, and are offering four $250 bursaries to postgraduates and unwaged/precariously employed academics living outside of Victoria (to be awarded on the basis of the quality and relevance of their abstracts).

Submission process: we invite abstracts of 250-300 words relating to the above issues, along with a brief (50-100 word) biographical note.

Please note: Presenter places are limited and abstract acceptance will be subject to peer review.

Cost: Registration for the symposium covers catering throughout the day. It is tiered as follows:

TASA members: $20 for postgraduates and unwaged/precariously employed academics (covered by the bursaries for those awarded them), $35 for waged.

Non-TASA members: $40

Please submit abstracts to both and by no later than COB on December 21st 2018.


Preliminary programme

8.30 – 9.00:         Welcome and registration

9.00 – 10.30:      Double keynote

·         Professor Marilys Guillemin:

·         Dr Bronwyn Wood

10.30-10.45:      Morning tea

10.45 – 12:         Panel discussion: Challenges and ways forward in creative, participatory                              and digital methods.

·         Panelists: Professor Helen Cahill, Dr Bronwyn Wood, Dr Joni Meenagh

12-12.45:             Lunch

12.45 – 14.45:    Paper session

14.45-15:            Afternoon tea

15-16.30:            Paper session

16.30-17.30:       Keynote: Dr Steven Threadgold

17.30:                  Wrap up and farewell



Visual and sensory research methodologies: Potential, opportunities and challenges for youth research

Professor Marilys Guillemin, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health


We have seen a growth in the use of innovative research methods that enable powerful insights into personal and social worlds of research participants; these include sensory research methodologies, and specifically visual methodologies. I will focus on the use of these methodologies and its application for youth research. Sensory research methodologies have largely focused on ethnographic methods. I will focus on expanded interview methods that use the senses as access points. The use of these methods offers a portal to otherwise unexplored research areas, that for research participants may be too difficult to articulate or too intangible to describe. This offers opportunities for researchers when undertaking youth research in sensitive or difficult areas. Using examples from empirical health research, I will illustrate the benefits of using sensory and visual research methodologies. However, this is not an innocent exercise and can pose ethical challenges. I will explore the ethical implications of using innovative research methods, such as sensory methodologies, from the perspectives of both researchers and research ethics committees. Methodological and ethical guidance will be offered for those wanting to use these methodologies.


Marilys Guillemin is a sociologist of health and illness, and Professor in the Centre for Health Equity, School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. She has published widely in the areas of sociology of health, illness and technology, innovative research methodologies, research practice, narrative ethics, and ethical practice in research and in health care. She has completed a number of key research projects that include: the management of menopause within specialised clinic settings; mid-age women and heart disease particularly focusing on women’s understanding of risk and prevention of heart disease; deafness and genetic testing; research on how ethics committee members and health researchers understand research ethics and how they address ethical issues in practice; and the role of trust in human research from the perspectives of researchers and research participants. Marilys has also undertaken research and published widely in the area of visual and sensory methodologies. She is particularly interested in the ethical and methodological challenges of visual research. Marilys is also the Associate Dean Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and the Project Lead for the University of Melbourne pilot of the SAGE Athena SWAN gender equity initiative.


Beyond the ethics application: Spaces of ethical decision-making in the field

Bronwyn Wood, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

While the focus of university research is strongly on the submission and approval of Ethics application forms to certify that research is conducted ethically, many ethical dilemmas happen beyond this in ‘the field’. In addition, youth-oriented research has some unique ethical issues related to power inequities between young people and adults, legal complexities and age and the particular environments within which such research is often conducted (e.g. schools). While researchers are well-prepared for completing ethics application forms, there is very little guidance for situations which happen that require ‘situational’ ethical decision-making. In this presentation I draw on a decade of research with New Zealand young people and reflect on some of my most difficult ethical encounters. Unsurprisingly, many of these issues arose at the least expected times and spaces of research and often demanded immediate responses. Others have emerged more slowly after considerable reflection on aspects of discomfort in the research field. By using examples from participatory action research with young people, visual methodologies such as Photovoice and everyday ethical issues which arose within school and community settings I will explore the ethical complexity of youth research and some of the principles and ethics of care which need to underpin such work.


Bronwyn Wood is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her research interests lie at the intersection of sociology, geography and education and centre on issues relating to youth participation, citizenship and education. Recent research projects include a two-year study of the implementation of ‘personal social action’ in senior high school and a pan-university study of transition from secondary school to university. Her current Marsden-funded research (2017-2019) is about the experiences of belonging and citizenship for young people growing up in some of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse communities.


About tasayouth

Blog of the Australian Sociological Association's Youth Thematic Group
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