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Contexts of childhood

December 23, 2011

I like this phrase – ‘Contexts of childhood

It suggests a lot when thinking how to approach and understand what is described of childhoods (through literature, the media, etc). I’m borrowing it off Roger Smith, who also writes that “Children are exposed to globalising tendencies not just as consumers or viewers, but also as recipients of information and observers of events. Environmental issues, say, or ethnic conflict, become part of their experience in the living room, even as their own social world appears to be shrinking.” (p7)

This shrinking he refers to is, in his words, “related to adult fears about the dangers of ‘the big outside’. Children visible alone in public places are increasingly seen to be ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’…. Opportunities to mix, socialise and learn from each other are restricted to institutional settings such as schools and organised youth groups.” (p3) “Clearly,” he goes on, “such a change has a potentially profound effect on the shape of social interaction, and indeed social learning.” (pp3-4)  Meanwhile, as Smith discusses, there is a globalisation of the kinds of leisure options being presented to children… and it is within this discussion that he raises the notion of ‘contexts of childhood’….

Ref: Roger Smith (2000) ‘Order and Disorder: the Contradictions of Childhood’ Children & Society 14; 3-10

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