CUSP, Meet people in the School, Psychology, Social Psychology

What do professors do all day?

This November, Professor Sarah Crafter, a member of the School research collaboration CuSP, was involved in a range of activities relating to her academic scholarship, dissemination of her work on child language brokers and her ESRC funded project called ‘Children Caring on the Move’. 


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Sarah launched her new book ‘Developmental transitions: Stability and change across the lifespan‘ with her co-authors Rachel Maunder (University of Northampton) and Laura Soulsby (University of Liverpool).

The book asks: How can we make sense of change and stability through the lifespan of human development? What role does personal experience, our relationships with others, and historical and sociocultural contexts play in shaping these changes? This book offers an integrative overview of the range of developmental transitions which occur through the lifespan.

At the London book launch, Sarah and her co-authors discussed how the book attempts to bring together different theoretical and conceptual perspectives and a broad range of empirical research including quantitative and qualitative approaches, encompassing a range of complex transitional forms. Covering topics such as health transitions, transitions in friendships and romantic relationships, career transitions, and societal transitions, this book takes the reader beyond a focus on childhood and adolescence, to look at the whole lifespan. Reflecting a perspective that takes into account a sociocultural past and present, the book seeks to show how transitions can be viewed as both an experience of uncertainty and possibility. Transitions perform important functions and present psychosocial opportunities.

Professor Peter Smith, Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London, introduced the book which is part of the International Texts in Developmental Psychology at Routledge. He was then followed by the guest speaker Professor Anne Edwards, Emeritus Professor at the University of Oxford. Prof. Edwards detailed her approach to transition, focusing particularly on how the concept can help professionals work with children who have, for example, learning difficulties.

Following this, Professor Crafter was invited to give a Keynote Talk to a small group of academics and practitioners at the University of Aarhus in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her presentation focused on a key strand of her research investigating issues for children of migration; namely the experiences of child language brokers’ (CLBs). Child language brokers are children and young people who translate and interpreter for family members, the local community and peers who don’t speak the local language.

The presentation was titled ‘Sometimes my parents think like ‘oh, maybe they are discriminating me’”.  Sarah used a dialogical approach to understand self-other relationships during sensitive language brokering situations. This is important because language brokering usually occurs between the child, their family members and an adult in authority in a variety of complex contexts and situations. Therefore, children tend to move between a number of complex identity positions in order to manage that. Sarah proposed that the notion of the contact zone is a useful framework for the consideration of potential confrontations and uncertainties during intercultural contacts between migrant children, their families and adults from the host culture who are usually in positions of power and authority. Sarah argued that positionalities explored by the language brokers must be situated within a wider socio-political arena of anti-immigrant events that arguably make more visible the ‘otherness’ or ‘strangeness’ of the ‘us’ and ‘them’ through the ‘audible’ visibility of second language use.

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It was also a busy month for Professor Crafter’s ‘Children Caring on the Move‘ (CCoM) project, which is an ESRC funded project investigating how separated child migrants, and those involved in their care, make sense of, value, and take part in care relationships and caring practices within the immigration-welfare nexus in England.

The project started in May 2019, and in November the team had their second Full Team Meeting since the project began. The Full Team meeting was led by Sarah and her co-lead Dr. Rachel Rosen (UCL). It was also attended by the other co-investigators, Dr. Elaine Chase (UCL), Professor Helen Stalford (University of Liverpool), Dr. Evangelia Prokopiou (University of Northampton),  Dr. Ellie Ott (University of Oxford) and Professor Ravi Kohl (University of Bedfordshire). The Researchers and Postdoctoral Researchers are Lucy Leon and Veena Meetoo (UCL) and Sayani Mitra (OU). They were also joined by Kamena Dorling, a consultant providing expert advice in her capacity of Head of Policy and Law at Coram’s Children’s Legal Centre.

For large research projects, Full Team Meetings provide a crucial mechanism for managing and navigating the complex research processes. When there is a large and complex interdisciplinary team, these meetings offer a crucial connection point for everyone involved. The meeting began with a discussion about a paper by Kesby, Kindon & Pain (2007) which talks about retheorising empowerment for participatory methods. There were also in-depth discussions about the team’s roles and expectations for the project and how we would move forward with a protocol for publishing our work as the project progresses.

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