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Abstracts of dissertations

Conceptualization of Childhood, Pedagaogy and Educational Research in the Postmodern: A Critical Appraisal
Meynert, Mariam J.

Glen Helmstad
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Education
Lund University

Year of completion 2013

language of dissertation English

  • Postmodernity
  • Childhood
  • Pedagogy
  • Educational Research
Areas of Research
  • Childhood
  • Education
  • Theory

Over the last fifty years, the debate between modernism and postmodernism has surfaced in the disciplines of social sciences. Epistemologically, there is a shift away from the concept of a “found” world, “out there”, objective, knowable and factual, towards a concept of “constructed” worlds, thus problematizing postulates based on the autonomous, stable, unified, essentialized, coherent and integrated subject capable of rational action, and opening up spaces for a new understanding of subjectivity that is based on provisionality and contingency. From the ashes of these tendencies for fragmentation has arisen what is called the New Sociology of Childhood and the new directions in pedagogy and research creating new spaces for constructing notions of children and childhoods. The emergent child has an active agency making it possible to construct a more dynamic child, located in a multiplicity of domains, thus opening up spaces for more flexible pedagogies and new sensibilities in educational research. I have therefore undertaken a critical reading of texts in the area of childhood, pedagogy and educational research within the modern and the postmodern in order to extract, appropriate and integrate parallel but socially constructed discourses across disciplines such as Sociology of Childhood, Sociology of Knowledge and Sociology of Education. I aim to reconstruct the concept of childhood both historically and within modernist/ postmodernist paradigm. I finally try to sift out and document some of the implications for study of childhood, as well as for pedagogical practices and educational research resulting from the paradigmatic shift from modernity to postmodernity. Finally postmodern constructs are problematized and a critical postmodernist position is invoked in order to straddle progressive aspects of modernity and postmodernity.