237.1 Childhood in Kyrgyzstan – Social practices in private and public spheres and their relation with democratic values

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 10:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Jessica SCHWITTEK , Department of Education and Social Science, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany
In a research project conducted in Kyrgyzstan, social practices of families and children were studied in two spheres: the public and the private domain. It has shown that a rather „traditional“ idea of private- and family life exists: Relations between familymembers are described in terms of functionality and reciprocity, containing high expectations regarding actual as well as future obligations – Participation of children in the private domain takes place only within this structure, and children in general seem to enjoy and value this functional inclusion; they are proud of their own share of duties and resposibilities in the household, and in selfdescriptions children demonstrate their „fitting-in“ with familial expectations. A participation that goes beyond this hierarchically structured collective is not promoted by families. This is due to several reasons one can only guess about, including e.g. a lack of trust in public structures, reliance on family networks, re-ethnisation of culture, economic hardship and geographic isolation. The promotion of children’s „democratic“ participation is rather, one could argue, part of the responsibilites of public and educational institutions. A lot of effort is expended to promote this function of educational institutions - especially by international organisations and NGOs with a rather „universal“ and „modern“ vision of childhood and the child as actor (or as political subject). This paper discusses the social practices of families and educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan, their respective advocates, and their relation with democratic values. Theoretical models drawn from modernization theory, addressing a modern society’s promise of inclusion and emancipation of all social groups (Eisenstadt 2007, Wittrock 2005), will be used to interpret the above mentioned issues.