Nationally and globally, childhood has become a crucial topic of sociopolitical debates and policy initiatives. Understanding Childhood offers a fresh look at how childhood has changed in recent years. It reveals how children’s needs and experiences have achieved a new visibility in wider social and political discourse. Despite the privileges afforded to children in the West, the typical childhood experience there is no longer seen as an ideal model for other parts of the globe. Recent reports and policy concerns suggest that growing up in the West may be marked by the commercialization of childhood, which can lead to unhappiness, poor health, loss of innocence, and a general lack of well-being. The contributors here introduce readers to the cross-disciplinary field of childhood studies and offer an exciting and unique exploration of childhood as a concept, in the process engaging with a range of contemporary issues that shape our ideas of childhood both as an ideal and as a lived experience. Exploring childhood from a variety of research perspectives and traditions, Understanding Childhood also serves as a powerful introduction to careers in childhood service.
About the Author
Mary Jane Kehily is professor of childhood and youth studies at the Open University.
“This excellent work provides an important, timely, international survey of childhood studies. Moral panics about children are displaced by scholarly reviews of theory and research from children’s histories, geographies, development, social anthropology, and socio-cultural studies. The reader is drawn in by thought-provoking case-studies and activities.” — Dorothy Moss, Leeds Metropolitan University
“Understanding Childhood brings together leading figures across the field and sets out, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, some of the central issues facing research on children and childhood. The volume has superb clarity and incisive analysis. It will be widely read by students and lecturers alike.” — David Oswell, Goldsmiths, University of London
“Using key activities for reflection, real-life examples, and key readings from relevant childhood literature, Understanding Childhood skillfully explores key concepts and recent development in childhood studies to critically examine the relationship between theory, practice, policy, and children’s everyday experiences. The cross-disciplinary approach adopted in the book offers readers a highly engaging and thought-provoking account of childhood—in localized, globalized, historical, and contemporary contexts.” — Children & Society