Lynda Phillips, Catherine Ann Cameron


Capturing lived childhoods without decontextualizing their meaning and still providing information needed by policy-makers and practitioners is a pressing challenge for contemporary researchers. In this paper we provide information to open up such a dialogue via a range of tools we have utilized when investigating well-being. We interrogate bio-socio-ecological approaches to human development to provide relatively holistic pictures of the lived experience of childhood. We utilize various methodologies within this approach to determine what they transactionally facilitate at each level. At the bio-psychological level, for example, controlled, psychologically valid, psychosocial stress procedures expose hormonal responses, yielding valuable information about individual differences in physiological stress reactivity. At the level of the psychological self within a social ecology, we systematically observe children and youth in naturalistic, environmental transactions with the aid of visual methodologies such as Day in the Life filming, and invite the children and their parents and youth to share their reflections on their lived context via focused discussions and interviews. In this paper we discuss new ways of integrating research findings by suggesting Sameroff’s (2010) unified theory as an interpretive framework for research within the field of child and youth care.


children and youth, Day in the Life, bio-socio-ecological methodologies, transactional models

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International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies

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