Childhood has become central to socio-political debates and policy initiatives both nationally and globally. Despite the privileges afforded to children in the West, Western childhoods are no longer seen as the 'ideal' to which all should aspire. Recent reports and policy concerns suggest that growing up in the West may be marked by the commercialisation of childhood, leading to unhappiness, poor health, loss of innocence and a general lack of wellbeing among children themselves.
Understanding childhood is a fresh look at how childhood has changed in recent years and reveals how children's needs and experiences have achieved a new visibility. It introduces readers to the cross-disciplinary field of Childhood Studies and offers an exciting and unique exploration of childhood as a concept, in the process engaging with a range of contemporary issues that shape our ideas of childhood as an ideal and a lived experience. The diverse nature of childhood is a key theme, explored here from different research perspectives and academic traditions. A range of anthropological, developmental and sociocultural approaches are also discussed.
This volume is the first in a series of four books, written by experts in the field, which provides an introduction to childhood degree programmes and related modules. The series features international case studies, examples and readings to supplement the chapters, and is illustrated in full colour. Other books in the series are:
· Children and young people's cultural worlds
· Childhoods in context
· Local childhoods, global issues
Mary Jane Kehily is Professor of Childhood and Youth Studies at The Open University, UK. She has a background in cultural studies and education and research interests in gender and sexuality, narrative and identity and popular culture. She has published widely on these themes.
Childhood in crisis? ~ Mary Jane Kehily; Childhood: a historical approach ~ Laurence Brockliss; Childhood: a developmental appraoch ~ Martin Woodhead; Childhood: an anthropological approach ~ Heather Montgomery; Childhood: a sociocultural approach ~ Lesley Gallacher; How is knowledge about childhood produced? ~ Martyn Hammersley.
"This excellent work provides an important, timely, international survey of childhood studies. Moral panics about children are displaced by scholarly reviews of theory and research from children’s histories, geographies, development, social anthropology and socio-cultural studies. The reader is drawn in by thought provoking case-studies and activities". Dr Dorothy Moss, Leeds Metropolitan University
“Understanding Childhood brings together leading figures across the field and sets out, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, some of the central issues facing research on children and childhood. The volume has superb clarity and incisive analysis. It will be widely read by students and lecturers alike.” Dr David Oswell, Goldsmiths, University of London