Acting Children, Care and Subsumption in Late Capitalism: the Fantasy of the Agentic Child
University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Since the global financial crisis of 2008, Capitalism, and the crises therein, have been on the agenda of many academic discussions. However, within these discussions, little attention has been paid to the realm of social reproduction despite its significance for the capitalist mode of production. In this paper I draw on Nancy Fraser’s work on the crisis in social reproduction to analyse an instance where children figure as key actors in social reproductive work through carework in an advertisement for IKEA. I argue that within the advert there is both a fantasy of the child as an actor and agent of intervention, and an alignment of IKEA with values of love, care and emotion in the family nexus even whilst the care work is directed to the social reproduction of the worker – in this case a nurse. The advertisement in question is one produced by IKEA for a UK television audience in the winter of 2016 in which a narrative is presented which emphasises values of care rather than selling goods to the consumer. Sociologically, I examine both the mobilisation of a fantasy agentic child and alignment with values of care at the boundary between the commodified (the IKEA product) and the non-commodified (the child’s care and/or family love) in terms of questions how children feature not only in questions of social reproduction, where their contribution is largely invisible, but also in questions of subsumption and commodification in late capitalism.
Child-Led Research, Children’s Rights and Childhood Studies: a Defence
University of Central Lancashire, United Kingdom
Recent articles by Kim (2016) and Hammersley (2015, 2017) have critiqued, respectively: the methodological and normative assumptions that underlie research ‘by’ children; claims that have been made about the implications of children’s rights for the ethics of research involving children; and some of the central commitments of Childhood Studies, including the idea that children are worthy of study ‘in their own right’ and that participatory methods are the gold standard. These distinct but connected critiques deserve a serious response, and that is the aim of this paper. In doing so I distinguish between three categories of criticism made by Kim and Hammersley: (i) those that are pretty obviously valid, and should be accepted to the extent that they apply; (ii) those that seem to be based on a misreading or misunderstanding of the claims being made by proponents of child-led or participatory research, or by scholars of Childhood Studies; and (iii) those that represent serious challenges to defend, redefine or rethink our aims, claims or research practices. In particular, the paper will consider: what we are saying when we make claims for children’s competence and agency; questions around the purpose, and ownership, of knowledge; the relationship between ethics, research and the study of childhood; and the relevance of Spyrou’s (2017, 2018) call for a ‘decentering’ of childhood.
Crossing Roots: Interdisciplinary Challenges Of a Critical and Public Sociology of Childhood
1Institute of Education/University of Minho, Portugal&ESEPF; 2Institute of Education/University of Minho, Portugal
Childhood sociologists often come across demands of interdisciplinary dialogue with scientific researchers and other professionals from different fields and disciplines. This is especially true when they assume a critical paradigm of the Sociology of Childhood which seeks, not only the understanding and interpretation of the living conditions of children - especially poor children or children in specific situations of subalternity (ethnic rations, gender, disability, or other) -, but also contributing to the transformation of the social structures that (re)produce those conditions. The dialogue generated in the scope of the design, development or evaluation of social intervention programs or forms of advocacy or action in public policies contributes to the test of constructs and concepts, but it also challenges sociological theories and perspectives. The development of the field of "Childhood Studies" is perhaps the greatest evidence of this interdisciplinary epistemological challenge, but it is largely due to the balance of the effects of this dialogue on the evolution of the discipline of Sociology of Childhood itself. From the analysis of theoretical practices of authors in Critical and Public Sociology of Childhood, of researches about the local childhood citizenship in the city and in educational settings, this paper seeks to interrogate the theoretical possibilities of dialogue with areas such as urbanism, psychology, neurosciences, educational sciences and law studies, amongst others, contributing to a multimodal theoretical positioning, without losing its critical and transformative perspective.
Key-words: critical sociology of childhood, interdisciplinarity, public sociology
How to Look at Childhood and Modernity: Beyond the View of the New Wave
Meiji Gakuin University, Japan
This paper attempts to reconsider the New Wave view of childhood and modernity. Alan Prout stated that the New Sociology of Childhood reached modernity by stressing the agency of children and childhood as a structural form, while social sciences reconsidered the concrete views of subjectivity and the social system and that persistent dichotomies surrounding childhood and adulthood made it impossible for us to grasp complex childhoods in late-modernity. Alternatively, he and his followers suggested a plurality of childhoods and the heterogeneous network of the social, using theories such as Deleuze and ANT.
However, plurality seems to be too broad. Can we allow the strength of modern views to be ignored? As Phillipe Ariès described and Prout himself insisted, modernity constructed childhood in certain ways and the child-adult dichotomy is rooted in our society as laws, institutions, and academic theories; and the New Sociology of Childhood might be the effect of this construction. We need to review the strength of modernity and, as an extension of it, the complexity and liquidity of late-modernity, in which even the disappearance of (the modern) childhood has been repeatedly announced, should be described.
With this interest, this paper will explore an alternate frame by referencing Jacque Donzelot’s metaphors of “tutelary complex” and “lines of flight” to understand modern and late-modern childhoods. In doing so, Japanese examples will be used, in which the child-centered tradition has been strong, and post-war economic growth has constructed a strong monolithic view of childhood.