So you’re literally taking the piss?! Critically analysing and accounting for ethics (and risk) in interdisciplinary research on children and plastics

Peter Kraftl, Iseult Lynch, Polly Jarman, Alice Menzel, Amy Walker, Ruth Till, Sophie Hadfield-Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
162 Downloads (Pure)


Whilst interdisciplinarity has been an integral part of childhood studies, it is less common for social scientists and natural scientists to collaborate in this space – and especially with scholars like environmental (nano)scientists. This paper draws on vignettes from a project about children and plastics, which combined a range of qualitative, artistic and biosampling methods. Focusing on these methodological intersections, the paper critically reflects on a range of ethical issues, including institutional ethical approval, health and risk assessments, informed consent, and data analysis. Its principal contribution is to outline significant ethical issues rarely (if ever) considered by childhood studies scholars, anticipating that doing so might support others (including those beyond childhood studies) wishing to engage in similar kinds of interdisciplinary research, especially in response to complex, pressing, socio-environmental challenges facing children. The paper’s second contribution is to offer a more systematic set of ethical considerations for burgeoning new-materialist, posthuman and post-qualitative approaches to childhood studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChildren's Geographies
Early online date18 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research on which this paper is based was funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (grant reference 2018–211; title ‘Plastic Childhoods’), awarded to Peter Kraftl. Peter and the other authors would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust for their financial support for the project. They would also like to thank the school, and particularly the students who took part so enthusiastically in the research, as well as the environmental scientists and colleagues within the ethics and health & safety committees who contributed to the development of the research and its protocols.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Interdisciplinary research ethics
  • environmental science
  • health and safety
  • new materialist and posthumanist childhood studies
  • qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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