A History of the Sociology of Childhood

Paperback / softback, 64 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
26 Jun 2013
Institute of Education Press

Price: £12.99

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This concise book gives a history of how the sociology of childhood has developed, contextualised in the history of sociology. It draws on the author’s own experiences, considers a wide range of published documents and includes contributions on specific topics by some of the main players in the field: Jens Qvortrup, Priscilla Alderson, Liesbeth de Block and Virginia Morrow.

The book describes how this relatively new discipline evolved and considers its principal propositions. It looks back to the post-war period, notably in the USA, and shows how sociological ideas about childhood arose from developmental psychology; how they began to be formulated to act in complement to psychological ideas and how some US psychologists began to explore variations in ideas about childhood in varying societies. It also explores the history of sociological ideas about childhood in both the UK and, most importantly, mainstream Europe and considers links between sociological and rights agendas.

This book concludes with consideration of the latest developments in this field such as globalisation and media studies; work in other languages, such as French and Portuguese and gives an account of work emerging in the majority world and its relevance for theoretical developments.

It is essential reading for university students on all varieties of childhood courses. It contextualises this field within theory and provides a clear picture of the constituents of the discipline. It is also relevant to those working within psychological paradigms but with an interest in considering alternative and complementary approaches.

  • Berry Mayall

    Berry Mayall is Professor of Childhood Studies at the Institute of Education, University of London.

CONTENTS: Introduction; Section 1. The importance of developmental psychology in shaping childhoods; Section 2. Precursors of sociological approaches to childhood – especially in the USA; Section 3. Sociological approaches to childhood in the UK – early days; Section 4. Childhood sociology in (other) north European countries; Section 5. Current UK work on the sociology of childhood; Section 6. Other recent developments; Concluding discussion; References.

It is a resource for students and scholars alike interested in the study of children and their childhoods.

Professor Daniel Thomas Cook, Rutgers University, Co-editor, Childhood: A Journal of Global Child Research

This succinct account of the history of the sociology of childhood gives a valuable and personal insight into the making of a field of enquiry. It illustrates well the contingent nature of the relationship between ideas, individuals, and historical moments.

Professor Allison James,

Written with authority by a leading figure in the field, this little book is an excellent and comprehensive review of the key themes and trends within the sociology of childhood, and more broadly of childhood studies. Moreover, Mayall nicely locates the sociology of childhood in terms of broader global and historical trends, thus reinforcing the need for a fully social account of childhood.

Dr Michael Wyness,

With this important book, Berry Mayall has produced a timely, comprehensive, and wide-ranging look at the emergence of the sociology of childhood as an intellectual movement. This is a significant book for anyone working the field of childhood studies – it establishes the intellectual antecedents of the new sociology of childhood, links that to the field as it stands, and then maps future directions for theoretical development. As such, this is an important source book, but it also goes much further than that: in setting out a thoroughly grounded history of the field it shows: first, the significance that comes from an intellectual movement having a historical and contemporary presence in a number of disciplinary quarters; second, it demonstrates how the constituency of the field in current times reflects the links between the shape of intellectual endeavour and the politics of knowledge at any given time or place; and third, as all good histories do, maps possible paths for the future of the area. It also grounds the history of the sociology of childhood in wider arenas of social and sociological concerns. A 'must read' for any serious scholar engaging with childhood studies.

Dr Jo Moran-Ellis,