The New Renaissance Child - Presented by Susan Stancombe at the 2012 Rome Worldwide Qualitative Research Conference

Recently Susan Stancombe was invited by organisers of the joint International AQR/AQRP Conference (Rome, 2012) to present a paper that “provoked thought”. So, provoke she did! Her paper, ‘The New Renaissance Child’ became THE topic of discussion at the conference dinner table.

Her paper poses the idea that many aspirational Australian parents clearly understand the value in investing their hard-earned money in developing the ‘New Renaissance Child’, who appears to be a beautifully all-rounded entity, ready to take on the world (in several languages and with a healthy does of emotional intelligence). Just check out the Junior MasterChef promo clip if you need a reminder of what kind of children aspirational Australian parents are developing.

Susan's paper explored the changing nature of learning, skill acquisition and ‘play with benefits’ taking place amongst aspirational Australian parents and their children. The paper drew on a contextual understanding of the seismic shifts in our region that go some of the way to explaining this new approach to childhood, and parental desire to 'future-proof' their children.

The phenomenon of the New Renaissance Child provides a mirror for researchers to explore the themes occurring all around us during our own Qualitative Renaissance Period. We are in a significant period of change and are operating in a global world where the economic and cultural status quo of old no longer exists. We could all benefit by continuous education, up-skilling, multi-skilling and being expert generalists - able to apply our hand to anything that may come our way (like the good old days), rather than being rigid, limited, reductionist and recessionary thinkers.

Susan's paper called for qualitative researchers to put people and renaissance style thinking and learning back into the centre of things and called on qualitative practitioners to ponder:

  • What’s the new order in your region? 
  • How are you ‘future-proofing’ in this dynamic period of change? 
  • How do you (or will you) demonstrate your commitment to being part of a qualitative renaissance? 

If you would like to learn more about 'The New Renaissance Child' or other cultural themes that are part of the 2012 Stancombe Series "What is the New Normal?" please contact or