Reclaiming Childhood. Disrupting discourses of identity, autonomy and dis/ability, adopting Arts-based methods, Gramsci and Bourdieu. A cross-cultural study in Central Italy and North West England.


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In this thesis a methodology built on autonomy is outlined, developed and defended to explore children’s identities (in two geographical contexts, Central Italy and North West England). The origin of the study stems from the analysis of structures opposing children’s expressive liberties in educational and societal practices.
The study considers how these practices advance and permeate research, perpetuating structured discourses that neglect children’s priorities, nuanced experiences and expertise. An aesthetic approach, inspired by arts-based research and critical pedagogy, informs the ethical imperatives that expose the underachievement of directive methods, while rediscovering and re-imaging children’s authentic participation and self-presentation. The original contribution to knowledge is both methodological and civic. By civic it is understood that the recognition of children’s cultural and creative capital can provide an entry point for engagement that is meaningful and evocative, prompting questions that align more justly with children’s views.
Contesting the naturalised prescriptions of labels (of autism and dis/ability), guided by Gramsci and Bourdieu, the evidence within this study troubles existing attitudes and methods in research with children, encouraging participation that is creative, innovative, self-directed and generative.
Date of Award11 Nov 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorFIONA HALLETT (Director of Studies) & CLARE WOOLHOUSE (Supervisor)


  • Aesthetics
  • Arts-based methods
  • autism
  • autonomy
  • Bourdieu
  • critical pedagogy
  • dis/ability
  • discourse
  • England
  • Gramsci
  • Italy

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