Children's Rights Studies and Childhood Studies: a Critical Introduction

15 Feb 2021 to 26 Feb 2021

The course aims to critically introduce the students to the intertwined fields of Children’s Rights Studies and Childhood Studies.

Concerning Children’s Rights Studies, special emphasis will be given to what has been termed ‘children’s rights from below’, and to a strong concept of children’s citizenship, as opposed to the more mainstream emphasis on ‘participation’, as per article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This will imply a critical assessment of the adult-drafted-and-accorded CRC, as well as an overview of a conspicuous example of children’s norm-creating capacity, as is the case with the majority-world movements of working children and youth.

Regarding Childhood Studies, students will be presented with, and invited to rethink the main agreements on which it is grounded as a field, namely, that children can and must be regarded as social actors (as opposed to mere objects of adult protection); that childhood is as much a biological period as a social construction; that methodologically children’s views need to be accessed first hand and that, as put by Prout and James in a now classic piece of 1990, “to proclaim a new paradigm of childhood sociology” is “to engage in and respond to the process of reconstructing childhood in society” (2014: 7), that is, that engaging in Childhood Studies (and, as will be argued during the course, in Children’s Rights Studies) is a political engagement.

The course will be organized around the discussion of the required readings, with an introductory presentation by the teacher on the first day, and a day of student oral presentations during the second week. Apart from the oral presentations, students will be required to write a 2000-words essay on a topic previously discussed and agreed with the teacher.