Special Issue "Childhood and Society"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Michael Wyness Website E-Mail
Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
Interests: children’s participation; childhood and theory; children’s transitions; home-school relations

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The "social" turn in childhood studies in the late 20th century has challenged a powerful orthodoxy within the social science, moving our understanding of childhood away from narrowed schooled and developmental models towards more diverse and globalised conceptions. Moreover, the rights agenda, the international focus on the exploitation of children and the recurring concerns of global child poverty have generated a more globalised frame within which we can make sense of children’s lives. This is a multi-faceted often contradictory field of study. Issues of protection elide with a global agenda of entitlements. At the same time, political concerns for children’s wellbeing have to compete with conceptions of childhood and practices with children that highlight their social agency. The structure/agency antinomy is a recurring theme within the social studies of childhood.

A second and associated theme within the field is the shift from a modernist 20th century version of childhood towards a post-modern 21st conception of childhood. Research identifies important continuities between the two conceptions. There is also a developing body of work that explores more nuanced differences between the two: the subtle move from a dependent and ‘becoming’ status towards an emphasis on social agency and legal and institutional independence. Arguably, now there is greater recognition children’s important and sometimes vital social and economic contributions.

A third cluster of ideas on the social nature of childhood is the heightened significance of generational relations. Generation has a greater theoretical importance now in studies of children and childhood. While it does not compete with grand narratives on social class and gender, analyses of social differentiation and inequality have been refined by work that explores the contemporary nature of relations between adults and children. At the same time, the contemporary importance of generational relations is also a reflection of greater adult fears and anxieties over children’s welfare. Social studies of childhood have responded to these claims through analyses of the ways that children in concert with adults refine as well as challenge generational relations.

In this Special Issue, we invite empirical and theoretical papers that engage with these contemporary research themes. Childhood is fundamentally a multi-disciplinary field of study. We welcome submissions from sociology, anthropology, politics, policy studies, criminology and technology. More specifically, these broad themes may be articulated through the following focal points and questions

  • Continuity and change between 20th and 21st century conceptions of childhood.
  • Contemporary conceptions of childhood innocence
  • Is there a global childhood?
  • Family structures and inter-generational relations: theoretical and empirical work on children’s changing social relations.
  • Marginalised children: when does deviance become agency?
  • Generational relations and inequalities
  • Childhood and digital peer relations
  • Are children’s voices currently being heard?

Prof. Michael Wyness
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Childhood
  • Children
  • Generation
  • Social agency
  • Globalizing
  • Inequality
  • Peers

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Exploring the Intersections of the Convention on the Rights of the Child General Principles and Diverse Sexes, Genders and Sexualities in Education
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(9), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8090260 - 10 Sep 2019
Abstract
Using a rights framework underpinned by the general principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of; best interests, participation/respect for the child’s views, non-discrimination and life, survival and development, this paper outlines four key tensions for rights realisation in the [...] Read more.
Using a rights framework underpinned by the general principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child of; best interests, participation/respect for the child’s views, non-discrimination and life, survival and development, this paper outlines four key tensions for rights realisation in the context of diverse sexes, genders and sexualities in education. Children are commonly acknowledged as being more knowledgeable than previous generations about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Gender and sexuality are relevant in young people’s daily lives as the Western world is increasingly acknowledging children’s exposure, access and awareness to such knowledge. Even so, diverse sexes, genders and sexualities are still largely considered taboo and controversial in formal schooling contexts. Emerging tensions in contemporary education practices related to diverse sexes, genders and sexualities due to pervading opinions about its appropriateness need interrogation and discussion. Conceptualisations of childhood innocence and heteronormativity are used to analyse tensions between the Convention and the reality of the complexities involved in actualising children’s rights in this context of diversity. Through its general principles, a way forward is offered to value and embrace the rights of children to learn about diversity in safe and inclusive educational environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Trust and Distrust: Listening to Children about Their Relationships with Professionals
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(9), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8090251 - 03 Sep 2019
Abstract
This article explores trust in children’s relationships with professionals in the context of safeguarding concerns. With exception, existing research with children about trust in professionals often fails to unpick trust. Using sociological conceptualisations of trust, most often considered in relation to adults, this [...] Read more.
This article explores trust in children’s relationships with professionals in the context of safeguarding concerns. With exception, existing research with children about trust in professionals often fails to unpick trust. Using sociological conceptualisations of trust, most often considered in relation to adults, this article unravels this complex concept. It arrives at a conception of trust as socially situated, an attribute of relationships, and a combination of interpretation (knowledge and experience) and faith. This conceptualization of trust is examined in the context of interview accounts from children that were aged 8–10 in an English primary school. Interviews invited their perspectives on three fictional vignettes about peer conflict, domestic abuse, and child sexual abuse. My analysis, although small-scale, argues that focusing on the process of trust in children’s professional relationships and the social, cultural, political, and relational contexts that shape this process, is a lucrative way to gain enhanced understandings of how trust is generated and what facilitates and undermines trust. It sheds light on children’s interpretations of existing relationships and imagined interactions with professionals, revealing the knowledge that they hold and what they do not yet, or cannot know, and how this knowledge (or lack of) influences their trust. This analysis is socially situated attending to children’s biographies, which offers insights that provide good grounds for improving children’s relationships with professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
The Politics of Young Children through the ‘Epistemologies of the South’
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(5), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8050151 - 13 May 2019
Abstract
Drawing data from an ethnographic study conducted in an early-years setting in Chennai, India, where everyday politics is couched in material and relational practices, the paper ruminates on the idea of ‘children as subjects’ in relation to politics and public life. By using [...] Read more.
Drawing data from an ethnographic study conducted in an early-years setting in Chennai, India, where everyday politics is couched in material and relational practices, the paper ruminates on the idea of ‘children as subjects’ in relation to politics and public life. By using the framework of ‘epistemologies of the south’, the analysis illustrates how a focus on ‘global cognitive justice’ might enable us to understand the politics of life in the global south differently from Western critical theory. The paper further deliberates on how such a ‘decolonial imagination’ would help us to reframe Eurocentric liberalist thinking and its conceptualisations of childhood and the political, practiced in a zone of messy social reality. In so doing, the paper tries to unpack ‘the political’ through paying particular attention to different ways of being, knowing, and doing children’s politics, and the subaltern practices of generational relations in subject making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Discourses about Daily Activity Contracts: A Ground for Children’s Participation?
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(3), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8030092 - 11 Mar 2019
Abstract
The paper presents the findings of a secondary analysis of qualitative research conducted in Turin (Northern Italy) in 2012–2013 on autonomy and responsibility in the relationships between children and parents. A total of 46 parents and 48 children aged 9–13 were interviewed. The [...] Read more.
The paper presents the findings of a secondary analysis of qualitative research conducted in Turin (Northern Italy) in 2012–2013 on autonomy and responsibility in the relationships between children and parents. A total of 46 parents and 48 children aged 9–13 were interviewed. The secondary analysis focuses on a specific section of the in-depth interview dealing with daily activity contracts. The aim is to investigate children’s participation in everyday life through children’s and parents’ narratives about daily activity contracts. Thematic analysis of this section of the interviews shows that children make room for acquiring such relational and dialogue skills as self-confidence and speaking up, which are recognized to be essential for any level and type of participation. Moreover, children’s and parents’ discourses on daily activity contracts provide an opportunity to “cultivate” participation and autonomy through a sort of alliance between parents and children in decision-making. The question is whether these dialogic attitudes and negotiation abilities are a resource not restricted to the family sphere but which extends to other areas of participation that go beyond the realm of private, protected, and reversible choices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Reconceptualising Children’s Agency as Continuum and Interdependence
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(3), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8030081 - 05 Mar 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Although the idea that children are social actors is well-recognised within childhood studies, the structural contexts shaping child agency and the everyday practices that manifest in children’s social relationships with other generations are not fully elucidated. This article identifies and discusses multiple and [...] Read more.
Although the idea that children are social actors is well-recognised within childhood studies, the structural contexts shaping child agency and the everyday practices that manifest in children’s social relationships with other generations are not fully elucidated. This article identifies and discusses multiple and often contradictory concepts of agency as well as a framework for re-conceptualizing it as a continuum, and as interdependent. The central argument I make is that there is a need to go beyond the recognition that children are social actors to reveal the contexts and relational processes within which their everyday agency unfolds. It is also vital to ask what kind of agency children have, how they come by and exercise it, and how their agency relates them to their families, communities, and others. The article draws on research and ongoing debates on the life worlds of children in diverse African contexts in order to critically demonstrate how their agency is intersected by experience, societal expectations, gender, geography, stage of childhood, and social maturity. In so doing, the contextualized discussions and reflections have implications to rethink childhood and child agency elsewhere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Supporting Children, Blaming Parents: Frontline Providers’ Perception of Childhood’s Adversity and Parenthood in Indonesia
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020064 - 20 Feb 2019
Abstract
This article explores the construction of childhood and parenthood in rural communities in Indonesia based on a series of focus group discussions with service providers, community decision makers, and paraprofessionals; a group that we refer to as “frontline providers”. By examining the providers’ [...] Read more.
This article explores the construction of childhood and parenthood in rural communities in Indonesia based on a series of focus group discussions with service providers, community decision makers, and paraprofessionals; a group that we refer to as “frontline providers”. By examining the providers’ definition of successful children and their perception of factors that could undermine a child’s success, we provide insights into how frontline providers understand the role of parents, and how parenthood is constructed accordingly. We found that the providers’ definition of successful children reflects a strong neoliberal logic and that education is seen as the primary mechanism of such investment, an evolution of the idea of a modern nation under the previous regime that has permeated into an individual assessment. The paternalistic culture has further cemented the tendency among the frontline providers to problematize parents as the main risk factor for children’s educational achievement and to ignore the structural and ecological factors. We traced this paradigm in Indonesia’s educational and child protection policy framework, prompting a myriad of parenting programs that put parents from the underprivileged group as the main subject of intervention. Informed by studies in different countries, we argue that without changes in structural factors, any intervention on parenting will be deemed ineffective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Child-Led Research: Questioning Knowledge
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020044 - 31 Jan 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Over the last twenty years, childhood studies has challenged the schooled and developmental models of childhood. The children’s rights agenda has combined with academic childhood studies, to emphasise that children are and can be social actors and to seek ways to recognise and [...] Read more.
Over the last twenty years, childhood studies has challenged the schooled and developmental models of childhood. The children’s rights agenda has combined with academic childhood studies, to emphasise that children are and can be social actors and to seek ways to recognise and support their participation rights. For those who promote the participation of children and young people, there is considerable enthusiasm to involve them in all research stages—from research planning, fieldwork, and analysis to dissemination, leading to growth in what is often called ‘child-led research’. This article draws upon an empirical study of ‘child-led research’ projects, undertaken in Bangladesh, Jordan and Lebanon, for a critical examination of the meanings and implications of ‘child-led research’. In particular, this paper explores what counts as knowledge in social science research within contexts of generational difference and power. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Positive Discrimination Policies and Indigenous-Based ECEC Services in Bogota, Colombia
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020039 - 28 Jan 2019
Abstract
This article aims to present a few tensions and contradictions when implementing children’s rights using the case of three Casas de Pensamiento Indígena (CPI)—indigenous childcare services—in Bogotá. It questions global policies and local interpretations of early childhood education. Its main purpose is to [...] Read more.
This article aims to present a few tensions and contradictions when implementing children’s rights using the case of three Casas de Pensamiento Indígena (CPI)—indigenous childcare services—in Bogotá. It questions global policies and local interpretations of early childhood education. Its main purpose is to find insights on what it means to attend to young children from minority groups. Could early childhood education and care (ECEC) services be reduced to ethnic backgrounds? In the struggle to deal with global, local, and community discourses, policy makers see positive discrimination not only as a way to justify their actions and their policies but also as a way to respond to the question of equity and diversity, regardless of equality. Therefore, this article highlights this discussion on positive discrimination as a way to intensify social inequality or reproduce inequalities at another level with a different name. Rancière’s dissertation on politics (Rancière 1998) and on the different meanings of politics and politique is used to understand the subtle relationship between equity and diversity. Considering all of this, it was decided to do fieldwork to comprehend the daily lives of CPI settings and the complexity of their formalization/institutionalization. The study highlights how CPI both differs from and is part of conventional services, and how indigenous caregivers and children face an institutional script that asks them to perform indigenism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
Open AccessArticle
Social Relationships, Child Poverty, and Children’s Life Satisfaction
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8020035 - 27 Jan 2019
Abstract
Child subjective well-being is determined by various personal, social, and contextual factors. Few studies have found reliable differences in the prediction power of these factors; however, the results vary especially when it comes to sociodemographic factors, such as the effect of child’s socioeconomic [...] Read more.
Child subjective well-being is determined by various personal, social, and contextual factors. Few studies have found reliable differences in the prediction power of these factors; however, the results vary especially when it comes to sociodemographic factors, such as the effect of child’s socioeconomic background on life satisfaction. This paper examines how poverty and social relationships affect the perceived life satisfaction of Finnish schoolchildren. Drawing on survey data of Finnish schoolchildren, from grades 5, 7, and 9 (n = 1793), linear regression was used to test how life satisfaction would be associated with socio-demographic variables, poverty, and child–parent and peer relationships. The results emphasize the complex nature of the determinants of children’s life satisfaction. The greatest unique contribution for change of life satisfaction was made by the time spent with mother (β(p) = 0.189). Overall, the model showed a good fit (R2 19.9). These findings have important implications for family policies and services that promote good parenting and positive parent–child relationships. Furthermore, this study highlights relational well-being as a key determinant of children’s life satisfaction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)

Review

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Open AccessReview
Children’s Involvement in Research—A Review and Comparison with Service User Involvement in Health and Social Care
Soc. Sci. 2019, 8(5), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8050149 - 10 May 2019
Abstract
Changing conceptions of children and childhood have in the last three decades led to the increasing participation of children in social research and their involvement in active research roles. However, the benefits and challenges of this process are rarely discussed in relation to [...] Read more.
Changing conceptions of children and childhood have in the last three decades led to the increasing participation of children in social research and their involvement in active research roles. However, the benefits and challenges of this process are rarely discussed in relation to the wider literature on adult involvement, thus missing an opportunity to learn from potential commonalities or differences. In this paper, I argue for an explicit comparison between children’s involvement in research and (adult) service user involvement in health and social care research. The paper presents findings from a review of children’s involvement in research, first separately, and second, in comparison with themes from the literature on service user involvement. As the paper will illustrate, many of the themes manifest themselves in similar ways in the two areas of practice, leaving scope for the development of cross-disciplinary practice, reflection and conceptual development. Particular suggestions deriving from the paper are (a) a strengthening of organisational frameworks within Higher Education institutions to facilitate the involvement of diverse groups of children in research, (b) the development of a more systematic mechanism for reporting the involvement of children and young people in research and (c) cross-disciplinary and theoretical exploration of key concepts such as power and empowerment within the involvement context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Childhood and Society)
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