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The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation

The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation

December 2015 | 184 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Outlining sociology’s distinctive contribution to childhood studies and our understanding of contemporary children and childhood, The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation provides a thought provoking and comprehensive account of the connections between the macro worlds of childhood and the micro worlds of children’s everyday lives.

Examining children’s involvement in areas such as the labour market, family life, education, play and leisure, the book provides an effective balance between understanding childhood as a structural phenomenon, and recognising children as meaning makers actively involved in constructing, co-constructing and reconstructing their everyday lives.

Through the concept of 'generagency' Madeleine Leonard offers a model for examining and illuminating how structure and agency are activated within interdependent relationships influenced by generational positioning. This framework provides a conceptual tool for thinking about the continuities, challenges and changes that impact on how childhood is lived and experienced.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Becoming and Being - Developments in the Sociology of Childhood
Chapter 3: Macro Childhoods - Prioritising Structure
Chapter 4: Micro Childhoods - Prioritising Agency
Chapter 5: From Rights to Citizenship - Transformations and Constraints
Chapter 6: Bridging Structure and Agency - Bringing in Inter-generagency and Intra-generagency
Chapter 7: Conclusion - Blurred Boundaries

Leonard’s The Sociology of Children, Childhood and Generation offers a thorough and up to date critical review of current debates in the sociology of childhood. Both those new to the field and more seasoned scholars will find much useful insight and food for thought in this book. Leonard’s introduction of generagency (and its subdivisions, inter- and intra-generagency) provides a useful and productive conceptual tool for theorizing the interdependent relationship between generation and agency. The book makes a clear contribution to the sociology of childhood and to Childhood Studies at large.

Spyros Spyrou
European University Cyprus

This is a lucid overview as well as an outstanding synthesis of the field of childhood sociology. Also, the book offers an original contribution to theorizing children’s agency.

Leena Alanen
University of Jyväskylä

This book contributes to a more comprehensive framework for bridging childhood as a structural component of society and children as active agents. Indeed, agency is best viewed as relational and not as a possession of individuals. But how to conceptualize this is far from easy. In clearly written and coherently ordered chapters, Madeleine Leonard brings an informed state of the art to the reader’s knowledge. Going through studies of children’s everyday lives in the family, at work, in educational systems and during leisure time, she shows the ambiguity of the concept of agency, which has especially important consequences in the implementation of children’s rights. The author also uncovers critical issues in the new sociology of childhood, like the limited micro-level changes that constitute most of the empirical proof of children’s agency. Her call for more accurate conceptualizations going past an over-romanticized notion of childhood is relevantly answered by her own original developments, giving perspective to her former research. The focus on children’s active influence in generational relationships help move beyond what is too often conceived of as dichomoties (adult/child, structure/agency). The concept of generagency illuminates agency as part of children’s relationships with adults among them.  This book addresses a large audience of readers and authors interested by unresolved tensions in theorising and understanding children and childhood.

Professor Daniel Stoecklin
Centre for Children's Rights Studies, Université de Genève

Madeleine Leonard’s excellent book highlights the most important issues and concepts in the debates of sociology of childhood in a clear and concise way, and without renouncing to portray their nuances. The book describes and explains the distinction and the connections between social structures and children’s agency; it presents  the controversial attempts to account for both the restrictions and the promotion of children’s participation opportunities  in relationships within the most important social contexts. In particular, the book introduces a new, remarkable concept: generagency (and its core dimensions); this is  a welcome attempt to clarify the complexity of links among social structures, children’s agency and generational relationships, as well as  a useful theoretical tool for guiding empirical research on the heterogeneity of children’s social lives.

Professor Claudio Baraldi
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia

I am sometimes a little wary of projects that seek to prioritise one discipline at the expense of others, but I actually found this book to be extremely helpful and interesting and am convinced it makes a very valuable contribution to the literature.

The book is clearly written in an accessible style that would appeal to a variety of audiences, particularly undergraduates taking specialist courses in the latter part of their degree programmes, and postgraduates requiring a brief but high level introduction to the sociology of childhood. Each chapter includes a set of aims and learning outcomes, along with helpful questions for discussion, which would also work well as essay titles.

Peter J. Hemming
Children's Geographies

Any research or way of thinking or reflecting on the lives of children and how childhood is shaped is worth reading, and this is no exception, because it would certainly reward your attention.

Neil Henty
Early Years Educator

The book
makes a significant contribution to the literature by studying
children and childhood because they are worthy subjects on
their own. The book does not seek to examine children only
by comparing them to adults. The implications of this book
are profound.

Ashley Zimmerman
Journal of Youth and Adolescence

The book is so much interesting but my students are enrolled in Pedagogy course and they are meant to be future educators. So I am looking for a more practical approach than this. As researcher I appreciated it a lot because it is clear, precise and the theoretical approach is well developed.

Mrs Claudia Andreatta
Accounting, iUSVE
July 28, 2023

This book supports both undergraduate and graduate students' understanding of key sociological concepts in relation to children and childhood, including; the social construction of childhood, the relational nature of childhood, childhood as a social structure and the impact of generation on children's agency. The author writes with clarity and carefully lays the foundations for the reader's consideration of her concept of Generagency. This concept provides a useful lens through which to study the inter-generational/ relational nature of childhood and children and thus has much to offer by way of theoretical understanding.

Jane O' Sullivan
Dept of Sport, Leisure & Childhood, Cork Institute of Technology
January 17, 2019

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