Notions Of „Good Childhood“ – Reconstructing Generational Orders In Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 64
Oral Presentation
Doris BUEHLER-NIEDERBERGER , Department of Education and Social Science, Wuppertal University, Germany
Christine HUNNER-KREISEL , Isbs, University of Vechta, Vechta, Germany
Our paper is based on ethnographic and half-standardized research in the two countries. In our research we have been attentive to the efforts to take influence on what is “good childhood” e.g. by international organizations and by foreign suppliers of educational opportunities, on one hand, and children’s and parents’ perspectives and practices, on the other hand.

Parents (as well as grandparents, relatives) in both countries are practicing an asymmetric generational order with strict demands towards children, youth and young adults to fit into parental expectations. They are supported in this endeavor by the national educational system and its representatives. While doing so, adults refer to legitimations which they take to be given by “religion” or “ethnic tradition”.

Based on children’s and young people’s view of the demands of these generational orders  we can identify positive and negative implications of the generational asymmetry for children and young people.  What is taken positive or negative is thereby depending on children’s age, but not necessarily on gender although the burdens of the generational order normally weigh heavier on girls than boys.

We operate with a notion of “self”/“good life” in the interpretation of our results. While it may easily be objected  that such notion is culturally and historically contingent, we can clearly show that children and young people themselves refer astonishingly enough  to such notion while judging about the various qualities of the generational demands and the opportunities they offer to  them or while trying to organize their lines of actions. We conclude that the really “other” perspective is the one of the child and the young people. It is a methodological challenge to grasp this perspective and to make this “otherness”  available for theorizing and practice. The paper will give empirical evidence for both countries supporting such conclusion.