What is a child? Is childhood a universal concept or is it disappearing in modern society?
We all have our own idea of what childhood is, but it is surprisingly difficult to pin down – and widely debated among politicians, professionals, academics, and even parents and children themselves.
This important book questions and analyses what it is to be a child, focusing on the theory and evidence. Part I identifies aspects of childhood that provide an analytical framework for the book's subsequent discussion. Part II considers 'childhood in context' – examining both historical and contemporary evidence from around the world. Part III draws together these discussions to assess the question of whether, and to what extent, childhood is a fixed or fluid phenomenon. Throughout, the author:
■ Draws on evidence from an array of cultures, contexts and forms of social organization.
■ Explores the complementary value of psychological, biological and sociological theories.
■ Considers anthropological, geographical and environmental influences on children's lives.
■ Seeks to understand the impact of policy and law on how children are treated and perceived.
A Universal Child? makes you think about your own childhood, the world in which today's children live and the variety of experiences which can be defined as a childhood. It provides a clear base for further analysis and debate for all those interested in what it means to be a child, making it invaluable reading for students of Childhood Studies and those studying related social science courses
Through this controversial analysis, Kerry H. Robinson critically engages with the relationships between childhood, sexuality, innocence, moral panic, censorship and notions of citizenship. This book highlights how the strict regulation of children’s knowledge, often in the name of protection or in the child’s best interest, can ironically, increase children’s prejudice around difference, increase their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse, and undermine their abilities to become competent adolescents and adults. Within her work Robinson draws upon empirical research to:
provide an overview of the regulation and governance of children’s access to ‘difficult knowledge’, particularly knowledge of sexuality
explore and develop Foucault’s work on the relationship between childhood and sexuality
identify the impact of these discourses on adults’ understanding of childhood, and the tension that exists between their own perceptions of sexual knowledge, and the perceptions of children
reconceptualise children’s education around sexuality.
Innocence, Knowledge and the Construction of Childhoodis essential reading for both undergraduate and postgraduate students undertaking courses in education, particularly with a focus on early childhood or primary teaching, as well as in other disciplines such as sociology, gender and sexuality studies, and cultural studies.