"They Dance Alone". Children Between Poverty and Social Rights

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Roberta BOSISIO, University of Turin, Italy
Alessandra VINCENTI, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
Children are mostly excluded from the analysis of poverty. The reasons are cultural and structural:

a) children are not considered in their own rights because it is assumed that their poverty can be well explained by the poverty of their family. It is supposed that their interests and their well-being match with those of the latter (family mainstreaminig). This is in contrast to the approach of childhood studies and sociology of childhood according to which children are social actors to be studied in their own rights (James, Prout 1997);

b) welfare reforms that, since the 80s of the last century, focused on the concepts of choice and activation – leaving in the background the social structure –, and have excluded children as persons to whom it is not possible to attribute responsibility for the choice (Saraceno 2015).

These statements have made children invisible in statistics and among the recipients of public policies.

Data and research, however, have highlighted that:

a) improved family conditions does not necessarily correspond to an improvement in the condition of the children;

b) the assessment of child poverty needs of specific indicators (Belotti 2011, Save the Children 2014);

c) in many Western countries child poverty – together with inequality - is on the rise for 20 years and even in countries that have enjoyed economic growth, children do not seem to have benefited.

The aim of the paper is to think critically on children’s social citizenship in Italy starting from the conceptualization and measurement of poverty.

Our hypothesis is that children’s social citizenship cannot be promoted if policies are focused exclusively on family. For breaking the bonds of the socioeconomic inheritance, children’s rights to welfare should be faced through policies disconnected from their family conditions.