Children – their number, their welfare, their property (whom they belong to), their education – have long been a matter of public concern. What a “proper” childhood should be is always a highly politicized issue never left entirely in private hands. Modern societies in particular have rendered explicit and institutionalized the existence of a public interest in children and in childhood as constituted within, but also outside, families. In this volume, we use the expression “politicizing of childhood” in a broad sense in reference to the ways in which childhood is conceptualized not only as a primary family or parental responsibility, but, in addition, as a matter of public importance and concern, something for (welfare) state intervention. “Politicizing of childhood” encompasses the public motivation and mobilization for childhood change; the political processes in which policies are formulated, legislated and enacted; the response to policy interventions that may in turn feed back into public and political discourse, policy formulation and so on (see Ellingsæter & Leira, 2006, p. 4). The contributions in this volume illustrate one or more of these processes.
Recent intensification of the “politicisation of childhood” has been observed by analysts in numerous social science disciplines, and in a variety of public policy…
Recent intensification of the “politicisation of childhood” has been observed by analysts in numerous social science disciplines, and in a variety of public policy domains. Sociologists of childhood, for example, often attribute this greater politicisation both to shifts in the social construction of “social problems” and visions of children's agency (for example Mayall, 1994; Oakley, 1994, p. 17; Qvortrup, 1994; Livingstone, 2002, p. 13). Others observe this politicisation in changing patterns of defamilialisation and refamilialisation of social care and their implications for patterns of social solidarity (Leira & Saraceno, 2002 or Wincott, 2006, for example). Indeed, the politicisation of childhood – defined as the move from childhood being understood as primarily a family or parental responsibility to it being also a matter of public importance and concern – has emerged as a major theme in debates about “modernising” social policy paradigms (for example, Leira, 2002; Jenson, 2004; Esping-Andersen, Gallie, Hemerijck, & Myles, 2002).