Society and Sociological Theory through a ‘Childhood Prism’

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Hanne WARMING, Roskilde University, Denmark
As stated by Roets & Thomas (2017) “understanding childhood properly is to understand society differently”. This statement can be traced back to the basic recognition that childhood is part of the social structure, and to the subsequent de-naturalizing of the othering of children and problematization of their position in the social order (Qvortrup 1994). However, childhood sociology is a heterogeneous field, which is reflected, among other things, in the diverse positions on fundamental sociological tensions - such as agency/structure, materialism/discourse, local/global, and particularism/universalism - that are represented within it. This was already pointed out by James, Jenks and Prout back in 1998, but it may be even truer today. Childhood research therefore reflects society in various and sometimes ambiguous ways; and it both contributes to and challenges broader social theories. I propose using the concept of ‘childhood prism’ to address the multi-faceted contribution that the field of childhood studies makes to sociology, and I invite a discussion of the achievements, potential and challenges of exploring society and contributing to sociological theory through a childhood prism. Thus, in the presentation, I will offer (a probably non-comprehensive) outline of what we have already achieved as well as of future routes, perspectives, potential and challenges. I suggest that the field of childhood studies offers not only a route to understanding society differently, but also a sociological microscope for studying social changes in the acceleration society (Rosa 2003).