Are children the passive recipients of influence from their parents and from society? Is their development determined by their genes and their neurons, or do they have the capacity to think about and influence their own lives and the world around them? How does their interaction with their social and material worlds support or hinder agency? Are children agents, and what do we mean by agency? Children as Agents in Their Worlds aims to answer these questions through a critical psychological and relational approach, while referencing and critiquing a wide range of perspectives from other disciplines including sociology, anthropology and education.
Greene and Nixon review the pioneering work of scholars of childhood studies and current post-human theories of agency and offer a developmental perspective on the emergence of the sense of agency and the exercise of agency in children. They discuss key themes including agency in families, agency within the school context and with peers, and children as agents in the wider public sphere. They explore agency and diversity, examining sex, age, genetic inheritance and contextual sources of difference, such as social class and geographical location.
Offering a stronger theoretical base for research and policy, through a synthesis of both psychological and relational theories, Children as Agents in Their Worlds will be essential reading for students and professionals in developmental psychology, sociology and anthropology, as well as education, childhood studies, children’s rights and related fields.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. The Concept of Agency in Childhood Studies
Chapter 3. Theorising Agency
Chapter 4. The Development of Children’s Agency
Chapter 5. Children’s Agency Within Families
Chapter 6. Children’s Agency in School and with Peers
Chapter 7. Children’s Agency in the Public Sphere: Rights and Participation
Chapter 8. Agency and Diversity: Variation in the Expression of Agency by Children
Chapter 9. A Theoretical Synthesis
Sheila Greene is a developmental psychologist, former Professor of Childhood Research at Trinity College Dublin, and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.
Elizabeth Nixon is Assistant Professor in Developmental Psychology at the School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.