Conference Agenda

RN04_05: Approaching capabilities in diverse childhoods
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Cath Larkins, University of Central Lancashire
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.


Barriers, Boundaries and Belongings: Complementary Angles on the Participatory Capability of Children in Street Situations

Daniel Stoecklin, Quentin Fayet, André Cardozo Sarli

University of Geneva, Switzerland

The notions of “barriers”, “boundaries” and “belongings” are insightful to understand the participatory capability (Stoecklin, 2014) of children in street situations. These children are often treated in discriminative ways because of the barriers erected between childhood and the street environment, and are behaving according to the boundaries and belongings generated, reproduced and negotiated through their own strategies. Inspired by the capability approach (Sen 1999), we consider childhood as the set of choices at hand for the population aged 0-18. Yet, the boundaries of the options children can choose from are moving. Their capability set is expanding or shrinking not only because of institutions acting for or on behalf of children but also through their own agency. We are suggesting that the adoption, in June 2017, of the General Comment 21 on Children in Street Situations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 2017), is potentially reflecting these moving boundaries. In order to come to a closer understanding of these social dynamics, we build a theoretical framework that shall allow us to observe the implementation of children’s participatory rights. We will do this by focusing on the participatory capability of children in street situations in two countries with very different institutional arrangements, namely Brazil and China. We examine modes of action (Stoecklin, 2018) to analyze the interplay between the factors converting rights into participatory capability (Sen, 1999). We thereby intend to specify the recursive dynamics of “rule-resource properties” in the structuration theory (Giddens, 1984).

Economies of Belonging: Conceptualising Child Care Under Neoliberalism

Chiara Alfano1, Patrizia Kokot-Blamey2

1Kingston, United Kingdom; 2Queen Mary, University of London

In 2016, a health economic report on child development (Anand and Roope, 2016) resulted in media reports suggesting that ‘children are better off at nursery than they are with their parents’ (Independent 2016). The authors use Sen’s (1979) capability approach, which emphasises capabilities, wellbeing and activities as indicative of life quality, to examine the happiness and development of toddlers. By characterising child-rearing as an input-output relationship of activities and interaction on the one hand, and development, ability and wellbeing on the other hand, the authors, perhaps unwittingly, further a mechanistic view of care work where parents and children remain, in a very real sense, separate. In contrast, recent work in feminist maternal studies (Ruddick, 1995; also see O’Reilly, 2016) repositions mothering as a relational practice producing profound and transformative ethical effects within — and also beyond — the mother-child dyad. We examine the consideration of the young child as ‘haver of capabilities’ and ‘doer of activities’ rather than the ‘cared-for’ standing in a complex and rich dynamic to the ‘one-caring’ (Noddings, 2013) as a symptom of the transformation of childhood under neoliberalism. Applying contemporary critiques of neoliberalism by Rottenberg (2018) and Holloway and Pimlott-Wilson (2014), we problematise and unpick the move away from a focus on the child as a relational subject, towards an image of the child instead as a future subject in a market of human capital.

"We Are Here To Improve San Jerónimo, Aren’t We?" TekeLab, a Neighborhood Technology Project

Lucía del Moral-Espín1, Macarena Madero-Silva2, Alicia Pérez-García3

1University of Cadiz; 2Tekeando - Tramallol; 3University Pablo de Olavide

San Jerónimo is a peripheral neighbourhood of Seville (Spain). It emerged in the 19th century as an urban settlement based on self-built housing linked to the works of a railway station and some factories established in the area. Geographically, it is located between the Guadalquivir River and the train tracks and it is surrounded by a cemetery, a wastewater treatment station, a funeral home and a power plant. These metropolitan infrastructures and facilities fostered a (perception of) historical isolation of this neighbourhood from the rest of the city.

This is the context in which the initial phase of the TekeLab takes place. TekeLab, a research, art and technology project theoretically based on the capability approach (Sen 1985, 1993), aims at fostering children’s social and cultural participation. For this purpose, it promotes children technological autonomy while exploring and reflecting with them about their own experience regarding public space and, more precisely, about the barriers, resources and needs of their neighbourhood. Through the whole process, the collaboration with local organizations, networks and institutions is extremely important. In this paper, we first introduce the objectives and thesis of the project. After that, we describe the actions developed and the outcomes generated so far (cartographies, photos, videos, audios, apps, interviews). Then we analyse children`s experiences and aspirations for their neighbourhood through the capabilities lenses and how they would have (or not) changed through their participation in the project. Finally, we propose some preliminary conclusions and reflect on possible methodological improvements and the potential replicability of the project.

More info:

Boundaries Inside The Hearth: When Our Parents Mustn't Be The Ones We Grow Up With. The Case Of Foster Children In France

Helene Oehmichen

Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France

This paper proposes to address the barriers to affiliation faced by children in France removed from their parents and placed in foster care at a judge's decision. Since the 1980s, the legislative framework requires children to count their family of origin as relatives, even if they never see them. They must not belong to their foster family with which they share their daily lives. From a field survey conducted for my thesis, based on interviews with foster children, family monographs (long-time observations), judicial files review and statistics on their trajectory, I will present the experience these children have of family belonging. I will first explain what are the material and symbolic supports of this barrier in the home put on by professionals. I will then show how and why foster children may want to break the barrier and belong to their foster care: age at the placement, frequency of contact with the family of origin, but especially sharing of intimacy (with the heat of the hearth), of norms and of worldview during a long time, and even more the place dedicated by the foster mother (who places or not barriers between the child and her relatives). Finally, I will describe which conscious or unconscious strategies are put in place by the child who wants to belong to his foster family: looking for the physical resemblance, the similarity of tastes and skills, playing on words of kinship, hiding his placement in the outside world, or even eventually asking to be adopted.