Lost and found: The sociological ambivalence toward childhood


Journal Article (Review)

Recent social scientific research on childhood is oddly ambivalent. Despite much theoretically creative and empirically innovative work, the sociology of childhood, as a subfield, is often uncomfortable with its own object of inquiry. I identify three possible sources of this sociological ambivalence. First, much work does not fully differentiate children from childhood. Second, much of the literature conflates the notion of childhood as a social construct with childhood as a social good. And third, the construction of childhood in some of the literature is incommensurate with the social policies designed to protect or empower children. This review further illuminates this threefold equivocation with a schematic review of the sociological literature on childhood written since the 1980s. I conclude by briefly suggesting how recent insights from historical and poststructural approaches have begun to alleviate this ambivalence. Copyright © 2007 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Shanahan, S

Published Date

  • October 5, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 33 /

Start / End Page

  • 407 - 428

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0360-0572

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1146/annurev.soc.33.040406.131808

Citation Source

  • Scopus