Rhizomatic understandings of children’s performances of identities: What are the implications for Equity work?

Youth Research Centre Seminar Series 2015

Dr Kylie Smith, Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne

We live in times in which neoliberal polices regulate education. Efforts to address equity are channelled through a focus on market expansion and competition. The consequent individualistic focus and the imperative that everyone can achieve 'success' if they just work hard enough and participate in the 'right' program in itself creates greater inequities. The impact of inequities in power relations and access to opportunities and material goods remains unrecognised. In a counter effort, researchers and educators search for ways to understand who the child is, how she is being shaped by the surrounding influences, and how we can support her to be a successful. In this pursuit we attempt to untangle the interconnected influence of macro and micro forces. This paper discusses the use of rhizoanalysis to untangle understandings of children's identities. This method highlights the need to explore the intersectionality of gender, sexuality, socio-economics, ethnicity, language and ability, rather than single separate categories of identity. Use of this method assists us to understand how children perform their identities in diverse patterns and continually develop, inscribe and re-inscribe meaning through language, power relations and knowledge about how to learn. A focus on rhizoanalysis raises pedagogical questions about how we collect data and what conclusions we draw from it to inform teaching and research.


Dr Kylie Smith

8344 4084 Dr Kylie Smith

Kylie is a Senior Lecturer in the Youth Research Centre, Melbourne Graduate School of Research, University of Melbourne.

She develops and uses participatory research methodologies with children and the adults in their lives to explore issues of equity and social justices within the everyday lives of children in and out of the classroom.