XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology, Sociology on the move, Gothenburg, Sweden, July 2010


RC homepage


Research Committee on
Sociology of Childhood RC53

Programme Coordinator
Doris Bühler-Niederberger, University of Wuppertal, Germany, buehler@uni-wuppertal.de

Congress Programme


Sessions descriptions

Session 1:Childhood sociology on the move
Organizer: Doris Bühler-Niederberger; University of Wuppertal, Germany, buehler@uni-wuppertal.de
“Determinism is dead in the social sciences. Despite a strong interest in social structures, social mechanisms, forms of reproduction, we are all aware that human beings are not completely dominated by them. The world changes and this change to a large extent depends on human action and imagination.” This is the announcement describing the rationale for the theme of the XV11 ISA World Congress. The development of childhood sociological research and theory shall be considered and evaluated according to this statement. The session welcomes papers dealing with the following questions:

Session 2: Children’s health as it shapes children’s lives
Organizer: Loretta Bass, University of Oklahoma, USA, lbass@ou.edu
This session takes two conference subthemes, sustainability and worlds of difference, and uses them to focus our attention on children’s health.  This session will investigate the relationship between children’s health status and the stratification system, both in the near and long term.  The case for child health status as a measure has been made in so far as it may be used to understand current and persistent inequalities because early childhood health shapes the pathway to adult social class positions.  This session will bring together papers focused on health disparities for children and then relate these papers to the conference themes of sustainability and worlds of difference.  In addition to being open to current children’s health research (e.g., HIV/AIDS, spread of disease, mortality), this session is interested in the reach of children’s health in terms of longer term effects (e.g., mortality differences, income inequalities, education).  This session may also discuss how current research on children’s health in different regions of the world may inform childhood theories and future lines of questioning.

Session 3: Methodological and ethical developments in research related to children
Organizer: Alison Cocks, UK, alicocks@btopenworld.com
The sociological perception of children, which draws on notions of agency and competence is recognised as having a significant impact on the theoretical positioning of childhood sociology.  This has impacted on the way in which we, as sociologists, engage with children.  The associated methodological developments within the research process which have emerged over recent years, such as children’s participation, demands reflection and perhaps a review of our understanding of the position of children within research.  This session aims to build on the issues raised in the Barcelona conference in 2008 where consideration was given to the implications of methods of research, research governance (both globally and locally) and the role of the researcher in facilitating the participation of children in an ethical way.  Paper submissions which critically reflect on the processes of researching children’s lives will be considered.  As an example, papers may consider issues such as:

Session 4: Childhood, governance and control
Organizer: Harriet Strandell, University of Helsinki, Finland, harriet.strandell@helsinki.fi
During the last decades, intensified public concern on children’s lives and well-being has emerged, on community level, among national governments and international organisations, among politicians and child professionals. Once again, children are moved towards the centre of political agendas. Contemporary economic, ideological and technological changes have opened alternative arenas of action for children, but also introduced new uncertainties about the distinctions between childhood and adulthood - uncertainties calling for new systems of control and regulation of children. Ambiguities concerning the proper place of children in society easily result in defining childhood in terms of risk and control, and in making children objects of intervention. 

This session will address ways in which children’s lives are governed, changes in models of governance and in their connections to broader changes in global economic steering systems, (welfare) state and child politics. The session will also address consequences of the changes for the understanding of childhood, for relations between the child, the family and the state, for child-adult relations and for children’s everyday lives and experiences. The session welcomes papers addressing issues of regulation and control of children, their well-being, care and education. Papers can address cultural reasoning systems or discourses policing children’s identities, well-being and understanding of who they are. Papers can also address mechanisms and processes by which children, through their own action and participation, themselves experience, deal with, take part in, and also influence processes of ordering and control. 

Session 5: Participation: a new paradigm for children in society?
Organizer: Lucia Rabello de Castro, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, lrcastro@infolink.com.br
Understandings of children  – as ‘not ready human beings’ or as ‘becoming citizens’ – have been gradually superseded by paradigmatic alternatives which regard children as ‘competent social actors’.  Developmental models of children, which have for long embedded the grammar of generational relationships, are questioned as to whether and how they still provide insightful relevance to ground social practices involving children and adults in contemporary societies.  The disarticulation of developmental perspectives has put forward demands for reflection and updated understanding about children’s positions in the present.  The notion of participation is increasingly put in evidence as a sort of paradigmatic alternative to include children as active social actors, establishing therefore, a different normative language to account for children’s and adults’ relationships. Nevertheless, participation seems a notion in quest for better geopolitical, psychological, legal and epistemological territorialization. 
This session calls for papers which aim at critically discussing such an ‘alternative paradigm’ for positioning children in society today, so that empirical evidence and theoretical debate can throw light on the differential contribution of children in society and the diverse ways whereby participation can be construed and produced among different social actors. 

Session 6: Assessing children’s quality of life
Joint Session of RC53 Sociology of Childhood and RC55 Social Indicators [host committee]

Session 7: Growing up in 21century: Leisure, lifestyles and unequal chances of children and the youth
Joint Session of RC13 Sociology of Leisure, RC34 Sociology of Youth and RC53 Sociology of Childhood [host committee].

Session 8: Defining childhood by law
Joint Session of RC12 Sociology of Law and RC53 Sociology of Childhood [host committee]

Session 9: Childhood rituals on the move
Organizer: Régine Sirota, Université René Descartes, France, regine.sirota@paris5.sorbonne.fr
It has been said that a certain “deritualization” is a characteristic of modern societies.  However new approaches, taking into account private life, children's culture, children as actors and profane rituality have shown an evolution of new forms of rituality during childhood.  Particular attention will be paid to new ways of celebration of the child in modern societies, raising questions such as: Is there an apparition of new rituals? Is there a reinvention or a transformation of classical rituality? Does the classical way to consider rituals or “rites de passage” still allow us to catch those transformations, or do we need some news ways of investigation, new conceptualizations to understand the transformation of the place of the child? How the different trends of a sociology on the move can enable us to understand and decipherer those rituals? And reciprocally how these new ways to consider this stage of life can improve a sociology on the move?

Session 10: Childhood, child labour and globalization
Organizer: Vinod Chandra, India, ccyrci@rediffmail.com
In the last two decades, societies of both developed world and developing world experienced significant changes in their childhood at local as well as global level. If, digitalization and consumer culture has changed the contours of western childhood, computerization and influx of information through internet and electronic media has altered the indigenous and traditional childhood of developing countries in manifold. The phenomenon of child labour and children’s work has gained the new meanings and significance for children themselves. Privatization and liberalization in global economic order has changed the forms and meanings of child labour. Given to this, social scientists have proposed a new debate of child labour through development perspective. Corporate social responsibility and business ethics are now discussed in the light of development and child labour. The latest economic recession and its impact on labour market will also be an important issue.
The proposed session will address the issue of child labour from various perspectives and tries to focus on other related issues of childhood in the light of child labour in present phase of globalization. The debate on development and globalization will be engaged to understand various contributions of children through their paid and unpaid ‘work’ and their ‘agency’.

Session 11: Violence and generational order
Additional session on the Congress theme
Organizer: Doris Bühler-Niederberger, University of Wuppertal, Germany, buehler@uni-wuppertal.de and Elisabet Näsman, University of Uppsala, Sweden, Elisabet.Nasman@soc.uu.se

Violence is still in many countries a legally and morally accepted practice to settle conflicts with children and until very recently it has been so almost worldwide. While the UN-Convention on Rights of the Child declares thatStates Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child” (Article 19) - this is not accepted in the legislation of all states and the real situation of many children is a very different one in all parts of the world. Compared to gender relations violence has a much wider acceptance as a strategy to settle conflicts and enforce obedience as far as children are concerned and there is a continuum of measures which all use physical force, for example, from locking them up in the nursery, “Holding Therapy” etc. which are even approved and recommended methods until severe injury of bodies.
The session can tackle questions like:

Session 12: Bussines Meeting

Integrative session 8: The changing role of grandparents across diverse societies
Integrative session of Research Committees RC06 Family Research, RC11 Sociology of Aging and RC53 Sociology of Childhood