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The Sociology of Childhood

4. Inequality and the Universality of Childhood

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we think about the idea that childhood is universal (i.e. a feature of all human societies both past and present) and the extent to which inequalities organise and structure childhood and children's experiences. In particular, we think about: (i) the view among some academics and theorists that childhood is socially constructed and not a universal category, and the extent to which this is a plausible position; (ii) the difficulty of coming up with a clear definition of 'childhood' – does (e.g.) a seventeen-year-old really belong in the same category of person as (e.g.) a two-year-old?; (iii) the intersectionality of childhood with other identities, e.g. gender, race, nationality, citizenship-status, etc. and the extent to which this shapes one's experience of childhood; (iv) the extent to which inequalities produce one's identity; (v) the positive aspects of inequality – the production of a sense of community, creativity and culture; and (vi) the belief within children's studies of the multiplicity of potential childhood experiences.

Course

In this course, Professor Karen Wells (Birkbeck, University of London) explores the sociology of childhood. In the first module, we think about the idea is childhood is socially constructed, before moving on in the second module to consider the idea that children have agency. In the third module, we think about child rights and the emergence of a 'child rights regime', before turning in the fourth module to think about the inequalities that shape childhood. In a shorter fifth module, we think about different theories of identity emerging from psychology and childhood studies, before turning in the two final modules to think about two domains of childhood – school and work, and the juvenile justice system.

Lecturer

Professor Karen Wells is Professor of Human Geography at Birkbeck, University of London. Her research is focused on childhood studies, particularly the formation of childhood and the impact of inequality on children’s lives. She is author of The Visual Cultures of Childhood (2020), Childhood Studies: Making Young Subjects (2017), and Childhood in Global Perspective (2014).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Wells, K. (2021, August 23). The Sociology of Childhood - Inequality and the Universality of Childhood [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-sociology-of-childhood/inequality-and-the-universality-of-childhood

MLA style

Wells, Karen. "The Sociology of Childhood – Inequality and the Universality of Childhood." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/the-sociology-of-childhood/inequality-and-the-universality-of-childhood

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