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The Cultural Politics of Children’s Citizenship

March 31, 2012

Allison James explains:

“Since the early 1990s, one of the most significant contributions to understanding children’s lives has been made by the sociology of childhood through its identification of the socially constructed character of childhood. It was an insight that prompted a sea change in understandings of childhood through the recognition that children’s own experiences of childhood, though in part shaped by the biological facts of infancy, nonetheless vary historically and culturally (James and Prout 1997). These notions raised the question of the extent to which childhood could be regarded as a singular and universal concept, applicable to all children everywhere. The sociology of childhood also questioned the part that Western developmental psychology played in shaping understandings of childhood, arguing that it promoted a particularized construction of childhood within the life course that might not be of universal significance. Early social constructionist accounts questioned, for example, the cultural inevitability of seeing children, simply by virtue of their age and stage of physical and cognitive development, as necessarily dependent and in need of protection (Burman 1994; Woodhead 1997).” (168)

Ref: ALLISON JAMES (2011) To Be (Come) or Not to Be (Come): Understanding Children’s Citizenship. ANNALS, AAPSS, 633, January 2011, pp.167-179

She refers to:

Burman, Erica. 1994. Deconstructing developmental psychology. London: Routledge.

James, Allison, and Alan Prout, eds. 1997. Constructing and reconstructing childhood: Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood. 2nd ed. London: Falmer.

Woodhead, Martin. 1997. Psychology and the cultural construction of children’s needs. In Constructing and reconstructing childhood: Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood, 2nd ed., eds. Allison James and Alan Prout. London: Falmer.


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