Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN04_01: Borders and Theory in Childhood Studies I
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Ana Nunes de Almeida, Instituto Ciencias Sociais - ULisboa
Location: GM.327
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road
Time allocation: 15' presentation directly followed by 5' consecutive discussion on the paper presented, and at the end of the session 10' general discussion of all papers presented in the session.

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Children and Animals as objects of study of the Sociology of Childhood

Ana Nunes de Almeida, Veronica Policarpo

Instituto Ciencias Sociais - ULisboa, Portugal

In this communication, we ask how the Sociology of Childhood can theoretically address the relationships between children and companion animals. We depart from one perplexity: despite animals are ubiquitously present in the lives of children, they have remained surprisingly absent in the new waves of childhood studies, both as direct or indirect objects of study. While developmental psychology has addressed children-animals interactions, this approach has been mostly human-centred, focussing on the benefits for children of having a pet, on the one hand; and considering children mostly as “adults in the making”, who have to learn (through animals, among other ‘tools’), how to reach the ‘better achieved’ condition of adulthood, on the other hand. Crossing contributes from the Sociology of Childhood, and Human-Animal Studies, and drawing on some pioneer research that has questioned the historical conflation of the two categories “childhood”/ “pethood”, as well as the presence of pets in children’s lives), we are proposing a different approach. One in which animals are considered as companions in the lives of children, members of different species with whom children develop companionship relations (Haraway, 2003), rather than stewardship ones. For this, we focus on what children and animals do, together, in their daily lives. Therefore, we bring to the forefront the importance of (social and affective) practices in the making, through which both children and animals co-build common worlds – across the species barrier?

Childhood Studies And Politics Of Childhood: Essential Contributions To The Future Of Democracy In The 21st Century

Heinz Suenker

Wuppertal University, Germany

From the early Frankfurt School to M. Castells today there is a social analysis of bourgeois capitalist societies which focuses on the significance of the ‘cleavage’ between technological overdevelopment and social underdevelopment for the constitution of subjectivity and the survival of both democracy and humankind. Recognising that under this state of affairs the future of democracy is very much at stake, this paper will argue that a core means of bridging this cleavage lie in the full integration of children as democratic subjects into the social life of our societies in order to enhance the political voice and the political consciousness of everyone. We will show how the correspondence between the new childhood studies and concepts of politicization open up the possibility of an emancipatory societal perspective undergirded by real participation and political education leading to the democratization of all areas of everyday life and of all institutions. This offers a direct challenge to authoritarianism, populism and the rule of power.

Panopticon, Materiality and Generational Relations in Early Childhood

Randi Dyblie Nilsen

NTNU, Norway

In recent years, materiality has become a rising interest of childhood researchers. From his historical studies, Michel Foucault provides us with conceptualizations of power and control that are applicable to get insights into everyday life events in contemporary childhoods as well as wider social processes. Panopticon, or panopticism is one such concept, that Foucault also connect to traits of modern society, in which power relations might take form of continuous supervision, control and correction. This concept is beneficial for paying attention to materiality and architecture in research within Sociology of childhood. This will be illuminated in the paper, which presents an analysis from the context of Early Educational institutions. I will attend to power and regulation embedded in architectural elements and generational practices, which have daily life consequences for both children and adults. When seen in light of earlier research and experiences, the analysis might be related to changing discourses that are actualized in childhood as well as the wider society and culture in a Nordic context.

Play-based Participatory Research with Children: Transforming Boundaries and Belonging

Laura Helen Virginia Wright1,2

1University of Edinburgh; 2International Institute for Child Rights and Development

Participatory approaches for research with children are growing in popularity and research on children is losing favour. While children as researchers are becoming increasingly recognised many academics caution against a panacea assumption that participation is inherently "good" without questioning what it entails and how to do it well (Tisdall, 2008; Davidson, 2017). This presentation will operate from a sociology of childhood, social ecological, and child rights framework to introduce a qualitative play-based participatory research process that uses a relational approach with newcomer children and adult researchers in Metro Vancouver, Canada. This research explores the role of play-based methodologies in child researchers’ psychosocial wellbeing and meaningful participation. Similar to arts-based research that refers to the use of art during the research process (Knowles & Cole, 2008), I employ the term ‘play-based research’ for intentional play-based research tools and spontaneous play that arises in the research process to gather and interpret data. Akin to Lester (2016) I suggest that play in research and practice can be seen as a form of minor politics that can transform bordered spaces into participatory spaces and that can be used to reconstruct boundaries and belonging. This presentation will introduce: 1) the research design; 2) the play-based participatory research training with children; 3) the process of research led by children; and 4) preliminary reflections on the role of play for child researchers. This presentation aims to contribute to the conference dialogue on reconstructing boundaries and belonging.

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