Children's Childhoods: Observed and Experienced

Children's Childhoods: Observed and Experienced

Children's Childhoods: Observed and Experienced

Children's Childhoods: Observed and Experienced

Synopsis

This text explores the social status of children, through consideration of their positioning in a range of social settings and in sociological theory. It focuses on children as social actors in constructing the social order and participating in it.

Excerpt

Children’s Childhoods: Observed and Experienced—the title of this book—draws attention to a range of possibilities for exploring childhood and to the wide-ranging focus of the chapters collected here. Between them, the authors are concerned to study such topics as: to what extent childhood belongs to children—or to adults; whether children’s understanding of childhood can serve as a basis for reconstructing childhood; whether the development of a sociology of childhood is, can be and should be for children or for adults; what contributions can be made by adult observation and study of children to understanding childhood; what are the methodological and ethical issues intrinsic to collecting data from and with children and to providing accounts based on the data.

That such topics are under consideration is part of the history of developing interest in the sociology of childhood; and the papers themselves have constituted part of an enterprise arising from the editor’s own wish to learn more about childhood, viewed through sociological eyes. Early in 1991, together with colleagues (Margaret O’Brien and Kathryn Dodd), I called a meeting to consider whether there was a perceived and expressed wish to provide a forum for discussing research on children and childhood, with the broad aim of working towards the structuring of a discourse on childhood, which would be distinctive, as compared to traditional psychological discourses and paradigms. the Childhood Study Group flourished as a London-based group and more recently a seminar group—Childhood and Society—has been established with a wider geographical membership, based in Keele and London, and convened by Alan Prout and me (funded by the ESRC). the chapters included in this book were presented under the auspices of the Childhood Study Group. My thanks are due to Margaret and Kathryn for their collaborative efforts to arrange and run the early meetings; later on motherhood and teaching commitments required their full attention!

The book includes ten chapters, which address a range of theoretical concerns, through debate, through consideration of interrelationships between theory and data collected from and with children, and through consideration of policies, laws and practices impinging on children’s lives. Between them, the papers consider children’s experiences and activities in a range of settings: the home (Halldén, Buckingham, Mayall), the neighbourhood (Ward, Morrow), the hospital (Alderson), the school (Bird, Mayall, Oldman). the . . .

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