Reconceptualising Agency and Childhood: New perspectives in Childhood Studies, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reconceptualising Agency and Childhood

New perspectives in Childhood Studies, 1st Edition

Edited by Florian Esser, Meike S. Baader, Tanja Betz, Beatrice Hungerland


288 pages

Book Content Available Open Access*
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*Open Access content has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) license

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By regarding children as actors and conducting empirical research on children’s agency, Childhood Studies have gained significant influence on a wide range of different academic disciplines. This has made agency one of the key concepts of Childhood Studies, with articles on the subject featured in handbooks and encyclopaedias.

Reconceptualising Agency and Childhood is the first collection devoted to the central concept of agency in Childhood Studies. With contributions from experts in the field, the chapters cover theoretical, practical, historical, transnational and institutional dimensions of agency, rekindling discussion and introducing fundamental and contemporary sociological perspectives to the field of research. Particular attention is paid to connecting agency in the social sciences with Childhood Studies, considering both the theoretical foundations and the practice of research into agency. Empirical case studies are also explored, which focus upon child protection, schools and childcare at a variety of institutions worldwide.

This bookis an essential reference for students and scholars of Childhood Studies, and is also relevant to Sociology, Social Work, Education, Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) and Geography.


"The volume provides a comprehensive and reliable overview of the international discussion on the concept of agency that has taken place over the past thirty years, focusing on childhood studies in the Global North."

Prof. Dr. Manfred Liebel, Master of Arts Childhood Studies and Children‘s Rights (MACR) an der Fachhochschule

"This is an important, productive and ambitious collection that will prove useful to established and emerging academics interested in employing theory to further the intellectual trajectory of Childhood Studies. The authors should be congratulated for bringing together this collection of thinkers in the one collection."

Catherine Hartung, University of Otago College of Education, Dunedin, New Zealand

Table of Contents

Reconceptualising agency and childhood: an introduction, Florian Esser, Meike S. Baader, Tanja Betz & Beatrice Hungerland Section I: Theoretical Perspectives 1. Re-aligning children's agency and re-socialising children in Childhood Studies, David Oswell 2. Children as participants in practices: the challenges which practice theories pose to an actor-centred sociology of childhood, Sabine Bollig & Helga Kelle 3. Neither "thick" nor "thin": reconceptualising agency and childhood relationally, Florian Esser 4. Children's agency: contributions from feminist and ethic of care theories to Sociology of Childhood, Anne Wihstutz 5. Meanings of children's agency: when and where does agency begin and end?, Priscilla Alderson & Tamaki Yoshida 6. Extending agency: the merit of relational approaches for Childhood Studies, Eberhard Raithelhuber Section II: Children as Actors in Research 7. Troubling children's voices in research, Spyros Spyrou 8. Playing with socially constructed identity positions: accessing and reconstructing children's perspectives and positions through ethnographic fieldwork and creative workshops, Hanne Warming Section III: Agency in Historical Perspective 9. Tracing and contextualising childhood agency and generational order from historical and systematic perspectives, Meike Sophia Baader 10. Martha Muchow's research on children's life space: a classic study on childhood in the light of the present, Günter Mey 11. "Children need boundaries": concepts of children's agency in German parents' guidebooks since 1950, Beatrice Hungerland Section IV: Transnational and Majority World Perspectives of Agency 12. Exploring children's agency across majority and minority world contexts, Samantha Punch 13. Do the 'mollycoddled' act?: children, agency and disciplinary entanglements in India, Hia Sen 14. Context matters! On non-working children's citizenship in South Indian children's rights initiatives as a practice, Laura B. Kayser Section V: Agency in Institutions of Childhood 15.Agency: educators' imaginations as triggered by photographs of pre-school children, Claudia Dreke 16. Agency and the conceptualization of minors in child protection case files, Timo Ackermann & Pierrine Robin 17. Children as social actors and addressees? Reflections on the constitution of actors and (student) subjects in elementary school peer cultures, Torsten Eckermann & Friederike Heinzel 18. Accounting for children's agency in research on educational inequality: the influence of children's own practices on their academic habitus in elementary school, Frederick de Moll & Tanja Betz Conclusion 19. Potentials of a reconceptualised concept of agency, Florian Esser, Meike S. Baader, Tanja Betz & Beatrice Hungerland.

About the Editors

Florian Esser is a lecturer in the Department of Social Pedagogy and Organisation Studies at the University of Hildesheim, Germany.

Meike S. Baader is Professor for General Educational Science at the University of Hildesheim, Germany.

Tanja Betz is Professor for Childhood Studies and Elementary and Primary Education in the Department of Educational Sciences at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany.

Beatrice Hungerland is Professor of Childhood Studies at the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences, Germany.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Education

This series aims to present the latest research from right across the field of education. It is not confined to any particular area or school of thought and seeks to provide coverage of a broad range of topics, theories and issues from around the world.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Educational Psychology
EDUCATION / Elementary