Qualitative Researcher, 12 pp 8-10
Mobile research methods seek to observe “directly or in digitally enhanced forms mobile bodies undergoing various performances of travel, work, and play” (Sheller and Urry 2006: 217). In recent years a small, but growing, number of academics have begun to use ‘walking interviews’ as a legitimate mobile method (cf. Ricketts Hein et al. 2008; Lorimer 2003a, b; Lorimer and Lund 2003; Pink 2007) to reflect “the core … realisation that the mobility of walking within particular environments allows for the creation of meaning. By walking people are able to connect times and places through the grounded experience of their material environment” (Moles 2008: 2). Much of the research focus to date has been on utilising mobile methods such as walking interviews in outside space with young people or adults (cf. Wylie 2005; Lashua et al. 2006; Pink 2007; Moles 2008; Murray 2009; Ross et al. 2009). Participants choose the route that they and the researcher take, which means that the researcher and researched are able to work collaboratively in a flexible format and tease out people’s embedded constructions of their socio-spatial worlds (Anderson 2004). Yet, “mobility is spatially and socially uneven” (Murray 2009). Very young children, in particular, experience restricted spatial practices as they tend to spend a lot of time in the supervised space of the home with adults, and thus are not free to experience mobility independently (cf. Stevenson forthcoming). Therefore ethnographic approaches in naturalistic settings (participant observation, creative exercises and key informant interviews) have dominated the research (cf. Thorne 1993; Pellegrini 1996; Corsaro and Molinari 2000; Plowman and Stephen 2005). This is particularly the case when studying children’s life worlds. One such approach for preschool children, which used a mix of methods, has been developed in the Mosaic Model (Clark and Moss 2001). However, unlike other studies the Mosaic approach included young children giving tours of their preschool setting to researchers. Moss and Clark (2001) argue that the tours were a less ‘sterile’ way to seek children’s perspectives on their environments than the fixed interview room would offer. Whilst valuable, this model has been employed predominantly in preschool settings rather than the home. This poses a unique set of issues around the use of mobile methods in homes with very young children who have, so far, been overlooked by the mobile research literature.