This paper discusses the advantages and challenges of using qualitative methods to elicit poor children's perspectives about threats and positive influences on their wellbeing. It draws on research carried out by the author on the subjective experiences of poor children in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia in terms of their understandings of wellbeing, threats to their wellbeing, coping strategies, and positive or resilient outcomes. After a brief introduction reviewing previous approaches to child poverty in general and research on Ethiopian children in particular, the second section describes the research setting and the ethical approach to the study, which influenced how consent was obtained and the data analysed. The paper then describes the use of qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews, draw-and-tell, and diaries, the kinds of data they produced and the methodological and ethical dilemmas and tensions encountered in using them. It concludes that despite the challenges qualitative methods are invaluable in order to understand what poor children see as threats and positive influences on their wellbeing.
Social Indicators Research (2009) 90 (1) 73-87 [doi: 10.1007/s11205-008-9313-9]