Studying the Social Worlds of Children: Sociological Readings

By Frances Chaput Waksler | Go to book overview
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Part III

Children in a Child’s World

The articles in Part III contribute to an understanding of children’s social worlds from the perspectives of the children who inhabit those worlds. The authors have taken children seriously—watching them and listening to them as sociologists would any adults being studied. Unlike some of the adults described throughout this book, the authors here do not present children as ‘unfinished’, ‘undeveloped’, or ‘merely emergent’ or as objects to be socialized or in other ways acted upon, nor do they look at children with The Look described by Joyce. Rather they take children to be fully human actors, both constructing social worlds of their own and acting in worlds not of their making.

Readers are urged to suspend judgment on the reality, truth, or correctness of children’s views and to resist the urge to view children’s ideas and actions as ‘simply a stage in development’ or as something they will outgrow. In everyday life, adult biases towards children are both strongly pronounced and taken for granted. Vigilance is necessary if one is to avoid such biases and come to an understanding of children as children, in their own terms. To aid this process, readers might recall their own experiences as children, and in particular their own frustration and anger at adult interference and redefinition of activities. Those who remember being interrupted by adults because they were ‘just playing’ or being told ‘you’re wrong and you’ll understand when you grow up’ will find such memories a useful prod to taking seriously the children’s experiences described in Part III.

F.C.W.

-119-

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