Capturing the Social through the Lens of Childhood
Until 30 years ago, social studies of children and childhood were confined to psychology, pedagogy and social work studies. Since the mid-80s, the ‘new’ sociology of childhood developed (James, Jenks & Prout 1998). Today, childhood sociology is a well-established research field. Nevertheless, core insights from the ‘new’ sociology of childhood have yet not filtered into the sociological theories. Thus, the othering of children, combined with a view of the generational order as natural, remain doxa within mainstream sociology.
Within the ‘new’ sociology of childhood, researchers have deployed theories from classical social science in creating their analytical frameworks. These theories have proven to be powerful in opening up new perspectives on children’s lives and childhood, but they are also problematic as at the epistemological level they have also ‘othered’ children as not-yet-adults and accepted the generational order as natural. Thus, theoretical reconstruction is needed – or put into other words: Studying the social through the lens of childhood holds great, but hitherto almost ignored, potentials for theoretical advancement. Moreover, childhood exposes tensions of speed and slowness in acceleration society (Rosa 2003) as well as hope and fear related to new technologies, social changes, and risks and risk management. In that manner, childhood research, metaphorically expressed, offers a scientific microscope for exploration of social changes, i.e. holds potentials for deeper insights to decisive issues of current society beyond childhood and children’s lives.
This session explores, and invites for contributions that takes some first steps towards the realization of, these potentials.