Construction of Adolescent Identities: Research with Secondary School Students as Co-Researchers

Updated: May 3

A participatory action-research on the theme of identity construction in adolescence has recently started at the Lab School Paris. It is conducted in the framework of a collaboration between the EHESS, BONHEURS research laboratory and the Lab School Network and aims to study the way in which adolescents perceive and construct their identities.

LThe specificity of this research lies in the fact that it seeks to understand the social worlds and daily concerns of adolescents by involving them as experts and co-researchers at every stage of the research process, from the elaboration of the research question to the analysis of the results, including the methodological choices and the collection of data. It is about doing research “with” teenagers, rather than “on” them.

Since the early 2000s, the inclusion of children and youth as co-researchers in research projects has been the subject of extensive reflection, both on the benefits of these new approaches and on their limitations (Bradbury-Jones and Taylor, 2015; Camponovo et al., 2021). For children, participating in a project as a co-researcher associated with problematizing, data collection, and data analysis can help build their confidence, critical thinking, autonomy, and sense of competence. From the point of view of research results, their participation allows more direct access to knowledge derived from the children's understanding of their own environment and subcultures; it therefore sheds new light, complements other approaches, and enriches the knowledge gained from the research, even if this approach also has certain practical and ethical limitations. This is why it is supervised by an ethics committee made up of Zoe Moody (Haute école pédagogique du Valais), Frédéric Darbellay (Centre interfacultaire en Droits de l'enfant, University of Geneva) and Samuel Arrabal (deontologist of the Agence de biomédecine).

This participatory action research aims to better understand how adolescents construct their identities, in a context of very rapid social transformations, accentuated by the health situation since late 2019. It is led by the Lab School Paris "Gender and Society" working group, made up of four students - Clementine, Lieve, Ulysse and Zero -, accompanied by Leo Ragazzi, a philosophy graduate. They were joined by Pascale Haag, lecturer at EHESS, and Titouan Fantoni, a student in the Master's program in sociology at EHESS, to conduct this research.

During weekly meetings, thework group agreed on a research questionalignedwith student concerns, chose a methodology, developed an online questionnaire that was tested with about 20 students and modified based on the feedback. Now it's time to collect data!

In order for the results to be as relevant as possible, a wide circulation is needed! Please share the link with all the teenagers you know! The survey is available in English, French and Spanish and can be completed from April 17 to May 30:

Thank you in advance for your contribution to this project!