Cultural and Ethical Challenges in Cross-National Research: Reflections on a European Union Study on Child & Youth Migration

  • Mark Redmond Bournemouth University


The increasing development of pan-national and supra-national institutions and ‘states’ such as the European Union implies that comparative cross-national research will become both a more frequent and fruitful research exercise. After all, there is the assumption that data will be consistent and easily available, thought policy contexts are increasingly shared and co-terminous. However, this may not always be the case. Reflecting on a European Union and Nuffield Foundation project, which considered the experience of migrant children and, conducted in Greece, Portugal, Sweden and the UK, the author highlights that, as with any study concerning childhood and youth, qualitative and quantitative methodologies remain ‘culture-bound’. Tracing examples from the developing sociology of childhood, this article suggests that in as much as we recognise the cultural specificity of childhood, so too must we acknowledge that research methodologies are a product of, and embedded within, particular national/cultural contexts. It concludes that, even at the fundamental level of analysing data, culture, ethics and research methodology are closely interconnected and cannot easily be separated into discrete universally understood categories.