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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor Gina Porter

Porter, G, Hampshire, K & Abane, A (2011). Children's mobility in Ghana: an overview of methods and findings from the Ghana research study. Society, Biology and Human Affairs 76(1): 1-14.

Author(s) from Durham


The papers in this special issue cover selected themes from a larger project on
child mobility in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa. The themes are those which
individual members of the Ghana research team identified as of particular
interest and on which they have reflected, drawing on material collected and
analysed by the team as a whole. In this paper we take a broader view, first
presenting the background history and context of the three-country study in
which the Ghana research is set (country selection, project design and methods),
then focusing on the research process in Ghana. We follow this process from
the preliminary selection of sites and refining of the project methods to suit
local conditions, through to field collection of data in our two main research
strands and its subsequent analysis.
The two research strands pursued in the study present different entry points
through which we can explore children’s mobility and access to services. One
strand comprises relatively conventional academic research: the first part of this
is qualitative (in-depth interviews with children, parents and other key
informants; focus groups; life histories; accompanied walks), the second part
consists of a large-scale quantitative questionnaire survey directed at children
aged c. 9-18 years (N= 1000). Our second main research strand, less
conventionally, is based in young people’s own research, in which (following
some preliminary training) they have selected their research methods and directly
undertaken research with their peers. Findings from this second strand, which
was undertaken at a relatively early stage in the project, by young people aged
between about 11 and 20 years, also helped shape questions in the adult
academic qualitative and quantitative elements.
In the final sections of the paper some of the key findings emerging from the
Ghana data are considered, with attention to the ways in which evidence from
each of the research strands interrelates in building our conclusions. We also
identify some practical interventions which might aid young people’s mobility
and service access in Ghana. Finally, we consider significant new questions
which our mobilities research study has brought to the fore and reflect on the
potential these offer for shaping a future research agenda.