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The child is humanity's future; childhood experiences shape future social life and culture. Happier children, and thus happier societies, are the result of a proper definition and comprehension of the child and his/her childhood period and the elimination of harmful behaviours and attitudes towards children during their formative years. Childhood is a distinct period in various communities and historical periods.
When dealing with childhood and the history of childhood around the world, all types of information, documents and items that are assumed to be directly or indirectly related to the child will contribute to understanding the place of childhood in the historical process. The importance of the child's role in history was recognised, and childhood was encouraged in historical research. Understanding the historical changes in the concept of childhood will influence children's positive development and perceptions of childhood. As a result, we wanted to examine childhood through the lens of history.
Viewing the global movement for inclusive and equitable education through the lenses of the social construction of childhood and world culture theory, this chapter…
Viewing the global movement for inclusive and equitable education through the lenses of the social construction of childhood and world culture theory, this chapter explores the normalized cultural conceptions of children and childhood, once situated on the periphery of policy landscapes, that have in recent years become increasingly shared by contemporary global society. I assert that a “global ideology of childhood” reflects a global consensus on the nature and needs of children, underscoring the widely held belief that all children are entitled to similar rights, protections, and childhood experiences. The overarching question addressed by this research is: How are global ideas reproduced and interpreted in national contexts? Through a case study of Nepal’s National Framework of Child-friendly Schools for Quality Education, I examine how the global ideology of childhood is reflected in a national education policy and how multilevel policy actors, and international, national and local non-governmental organizations (I/NGOs) in particular, envision the sustainability of the child-friendly school model – and broader socio-cultural ideas concerning children and childhood – in Nepal. Drawing on interviews with these actors and content analysis of policy documents, this chapter aims to provide a rich, descriptive account of how global culture is appropriated in one national context.
This paper recovers some theoretical elements of the sociology of childhood in the Anglo-Saxon field, to discuss their contributions, scopes and limits about child agency…
This paper recovers some theoretical elements of the sociology of childhood in the Anglo-Saxon field, to discuss their contributions, scopes and limits about child agency in children living in poor and urban contexts, in Latin America. The objective is to contribute to the debates within the field of childhood from a sociological perspective that accentuate the capacity of action and resistance of children even in the framework of structural restrictions, without assuming a decontextualized and ideal approach about the agency.
From John Dewey to Herbert Kohl, many theorists and practitioners have explored the use of a developmentalist model as a way to harness the natural instincts and interests…
From John Dewey to Herbert Kohl, many theorists and practitioners have explored the use of a developmentalist model as a way to harness the natural instincts and interests of young children to foster meaningful learning. Yet, the concept of meaningful learning in early childhood education today is quickly shifting away from the developmentalist model and its emphasis on authentic learning, toward a social-efficiency model that emphasizes the use of state curriculum standards, standardized assessments, and evidence-based instructional approaches. As the early childhood curriculum pendulum swings, early childhood programs find themselves at risk for becoming more “business like” and less representative of the kind of reflective and risk-taking environments Dewey envisioned leaving educators struggling to use child-centered practices in an era of increased accountability. Considering some of the significant challenges facing early childhood programs and educators, it is critically important for the field of early childhood to begin examining the ways in which the curriculum and instructional procedures being utilized may, or may not, be illustrative of Dewey’s vision of active, dynamic, and integrated early learning experiences and, to what degree. One way to promote meaningful instructional integration is to consider the natural connections that exist across content areas. A logical beginning is to use literacy as an anchor for meaningful learning across the preschool curriculum. In this chapter the authors engage in a review of the literature as it relates to the integration of early literacy and content curriculum and discuss implications for future practice.
We descriptively examined measures of family structure, socioeconomic disadvantage, and exposure to crime, violence, and substance use in young adulthood and childhood for…
We descriptively examined measures of family structure, socioeconomic disadvantage, and exposure to crime, violence, and substance use in young adulthood and childhood for those who experienced maternal incarceration as children.
We used data from waves I and IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We compared these individuals to two groups: those who did not experience maternal incarceration and those who experienced paternal incarceration. We generated weighted means and conducted F-tests using bivariate regressions to determine where these groups significantly differed.
We found that individuals whose mothers were incarcerated during their childhoods experienced greater hardships in both childhood and young adulthood than those whose mothers were not incarcerated. Individuals who experienced maternal incarceration reported similar levels of socioeconomic disadvantage and exposure to crime and violence as those who experienced paternal incarceration. One notable exception was family structure, where maternal incarceration was associated with significantly fewer respondents reporting living with their mother or either biological parent.
With the exception of family structure, the childhood and transition to adulthood were comparable for individuals experiencing any form of parental incarceration. These children were significantly more disadvantaged and exposed to more risk factors than those whose parents were never incarcerated. Additional support and resources are necessary for families who have incarcerated parents, with special outreach made to families without a biological mother in the household.
Originality/Value of Paper
There has been no overarching, descriptive study comparing child and young adult outcomes of those with an incarcerated mother using a nationally representative, longitudinal dataset in the United States.
This paper sets out to analyse both the dominant constructions of childhood and the prevailing sexual scripts embedded in international reports on the sexualisation of…
This paper sets out to analyse both the dominant constructions of childhood and the prevailing sexual scripts embedded in international reports on the sexualisation of childhood debate.
Four international reports from the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States are analysed using Foucauldian Discourse Analysis whereby the sexual subjecthoods made available to children and images of childhood itself can be interrogated.
This paper finds that a broad-brush approach to sexualisation renders consumption and embodiment as ‘sexualised’ and problematic. Gender remains unproblematised and sexuality as an issue is palpable by its absence. The reports show a lack of attention to the voices of children and a denial of their moral agency. Innocence is constructed as a fundamental yet unstable feature of childhood which requires protection from the insidious external forces of 21st century sexual cultures. Childhood thus functions as a motif for the state of society as a whole.
Identifying the dominant constructions of childhood, sexualisation, gender and sexuality, by analysing how these concepts are defined, understood and talked about within international responses to the issue of the sexualisation of childhood, light can be shed upon the sanctioned ways made available to ‘do’ sex, gender and sexuality and to ‘be’ a child, a boy, a girl, a ‘sexual’ or a ‘sexualised’ being. In addition, this enables evaluation of the ways in which images of the child are mobilised for policy and political agendas and how childhood functions as both a barometer for, and symbol of, the well-being of a society.
Constructivist grounded theory method (GTM) as outlined by Kathy Charmaz has its explicit roots in the American pragmatism and symbolic interactionism primarily developed…
Constructivist grounded theory method (GTM) as outlined by Kathy Charmaz has its explicit roots in the American pragmatism and symbolic interactionism primarily developed at the University of Chicago during the early and mid-twentieth century. Symbolic interactionism considers people as active and interpretative agents who co-construct selves, identities, meanings, social actions, social worlds, and societies through interactions. Charmaz argues that symbolic interactionism is an open-ended theoretical perspective that fosters studying action, process, and meanings, with a focus on how people co-construct and negotiate meanings, orders, and actions in their everyday lives. In this chapter, I argue that constructivist GTM, including its theory-method package built upon symbolic interactionism and the Chicago School tradition, can be further combined with the new sociology of childhood to study children's social worlds and negotiated meanings, orders, and actions.
This chapter is not about the development of the child; I am making this clear from the outset because the title could easily be misinterpreted that way by the readers who are unacquainted with social studies of childhood. Although ‘development’ and ‘child’ are familiar concepts, which combined in notions of ‘development of the child’ or ‘child development’ are parts of a century long, successful and dominant discourse, the notion of ‘development of childhood’ is rather begging questions, such as if there at all is such a thing as a theory of childhood development and if we need it. To my mind the brief answer to the first question is ‘no’, but quite a few authors have made thoughtful formulations about it and about generational relations without necessarily having intended to be theory builders (cf. Alanen, 2009). The answer to the second question is ‘yes’, I believe we need such a theory to come to terms with how children's life worlds have changed and how they have related to contemporaries belonging to other generations – adulthood, youth and old age.
Childhood is often defined in contrast to adulthood. Each becomes meaningfully linked so that it is difficult to understand what childhood is without looking at adulthood…
Childhood is often defined in contrast to adulthood. Each becomes meaningfully linked so that it is difficult to understand what childhood is without looking at adulthood or vice versa. Each becomes what the other is not. In a similar vein, structure and agency are often characterised in contrast to each other. The meaning of each becomes dependent on the meaning of the concept which it is set against. Hence, structure becomes defined as ‘constraint while agency becomes defined as freedom, structure is regarded as static while agency is regarded as active; structure becomes defined as collective while agency becomes defined as individual’ (Hays, 1994, p. 57). This way of conceptualising structure and agency often underplays the interconnections between the two. Up until the 1980s, children were primarily considered within developmental psychology and functionalist socialisation frameworks. The former presented childhood as a natural and universal phase of human life with adulthood being seen as the logical endpoint of childhood. The latter adopting teleological frameworks viewed childhood as a preparation for adulthood and focused in particular on the importance of socialisation in reproducing stable adult personalities. In both approaches, children were considered mainly in terms of presumed future outcomes. In breaking with these approaches, the ‘new sociology of childhood’ sought to emphasise children's agency and to consider children's lives in the here and now rather than as future projects. This has resulted in a plethora of qualitative studies that highlight children's position as active agents. Indeed, in developing a new paradigm for the sociology of childhood, Prout and James (1997) specifically recommend ethnography as a preferred method for uncovering and understanding children's daily lives. This has led Qvortrup (1999, p. 3) to express concern that the ‘adherents of the agency approach are gaining the upper hand’. Qvortrup warns that researchers also need to employ structural approaches to fully understand and illuminate the broader landscape of childhood. He reminds us that childhood is a particular and distinctive form of every society's social structure. Rather than a transient phase, it is a permanent social category shaped by macro forces. While of course children practice agency throughout their childhood and ethnographic studies have been crucial in challenging adults’ conceptions of children as irrational, immature and so on, nonetheless, Qvortrup argues that these studies have been less useful in illuminating the position of childhood in macro societal structures. These wider societal forces position children as a minority group conditioned by resilient power relations based on generation, and they have been relatively immune from children's individual or collective agency. In other words, children act as agents under specific structural conditions. Of course, this does not render children's agency as meaningless. Like adults, children actively produce certain forms of social structure, while simultaneously, social structures produce certain types of childhood (see the chapter by Qvortrup, this volume). Hence, structures are enabling as well as constraining (Giddens, 1984). Indeed over the past two decades, adults are becoming increasingly aware of childhood as a structural form and of the durability of power differentials between adults and children and are increasingly working with children to develop a rights-based agenda to further their collective interests. This could be seen as an example of the collective agency of children although it also illustrates how this agency takes place against a backdrop where existing hierarchies between adults and children structure the conditions under which children practice their agency. One could question whether participating in these recurring forms of social interaction make children agents (Hays, 1994, p. 63).
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…
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.