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Encounters with biosocial power

Refiguring childhood stages a series of encounters with biosocial power, which is a specific zone of intensity within the more encompassing arena of biopower and biopolitics. Assembled at the intersection of thought and practice, biosocial power attempts to bring envisioned futures into the present, taking hold of life in the form of childhood, thereby bridging being and becoming while also shaping the power relations that encapsulate the social and cultural world(s) of adults and children. Taking up a critical perspective which is attentive to the contingency of childhoods – the ways in which particular childhoods are constituted and configured – the method used in the book is a transversal genealogy that moves between past and present while also crossing a series of discourses and practices framed by children’s rights (the right to play), citizenship, health, disadvantage and entrepreneurship education. The overarching analysis converges on contemporary neoliberal enterprise culture, which is approached as a conjuncture that helps to explain, and also to trouble, the growing emphasis on the agency and rights of children. It is against the backdrop of this problematic that the book makes its case for refiguring childhood. Focusing on the how, where and when of biosocial power, Refiguring childhood will appeal to researchers and students interested in examining the relationship between power and childhood through the lens of social and political theory, sociology, cultural studies, history and geography.

Lucy Bassett
J. Charles Bradley

settings, and access to early childhood development (ECD) services becomes more challenging where family and social networks have been weakened and social service delivery interrupted. Despite being vulnerable, young children are also tremendously adaptable and resilient. Appropriate support for children’s physical, mental and socio-emotional needs can mitigate the destabilising effects of trauma and allow them not only to survive but also thrive, even in the most hostile circumstances. However, to address the needs of young children, we must strengthen humanitarian

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Abstract only
P. J. P. Goldberg

This chapter presents a selection of sourcess on the theme of the childhood of women in medieval England.

in Women in England c. 1275–1525
Abstract only
Jane Gray
Ruth Geraghty
, and
David Ralph

3 Changing childhoods When Claire and her brothers and sisters arrived home from school in the 1930s: we had to do the homework and when we went to the national school we’d always have work to do when we came home from school outside. When the potatoes had been dug and that we often had the job of picking potatoes, well the big ones might be gone but you might have to pick the small ones and it would be cold weather at that time, the potatoes were dug later than they are now. We’d all have to do that because they could have had four or five men digging all day

in Family rhythms
Kevin Ryan

9 Refiguring childhood Action … corresponds to the human condition of plurality, to the fact that men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world … if we had a nature or essence, then surely only a god could know and define it, and the first prerequisite would be that he be able to speak about a ‘who’ as though it were a ‘what’. (Arendt 1998: 9–11) In her introduction to Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition (1998: xvii), Margaret Canovan remarks that the book’s ‘most heartening message is its reminder of natality and the miracle of beginning’. In contrast

in Refiguring childhood
David MacDougall

4 Environments of childhood Inner and outer worlds Children present a puzzle to the filmmaker. They belong to an elusive social group, with its own rules and rituals. They jealously guard the secrets of their private lives. Their relations with adults are ambivalent and variable. They can be distrustful and keep their distance and yet at other times show astonishing candour and affection. They have their own distinctive ways of speaking and thinking – a fact now confirmed by neuroscientists, although long assumed by Jean Piaget and many developmental

in The looking machine
The medical and moral framing of ‘health’
Kevin Ryan

6 Childhood as a national asset: the medical and moral framing of ‘health’ The initial aim of this chapter is to reconstruct an apparatus that began to take shape during the nineteenth century and was consolidated during the early decades of the twentieth. Originally assembled around the figure of the ‘neglected’ child, and operating at the intersection not only of the biological and the social, but also the medical and the moral, the object of inquiry is more than it appears to be. It appears in the guise of health but on closer inspection proves to be a

in Refiguring childhood
Changing perceptions
Matthew Happold

Introduction Perceptions of childhood vary across time and space. Whereas it seems to be the case that few, if any cultures, do not consider that children should be protected against the ravages of war, views as to the extent to which children should be involved in conflict have varied. Indeed, in many cases, what would now be condemned as child soldiering was seen as

in Child soldiers in international law
Celia Hughes

1 Post-war childhood and adolescence Young sixties activists grew up in a historically distinct landscape. Allowing for the social and psychological dislocations of war, postwar Britain remained a stable and conservative place to be. Simon J. Charlesworth explained the importance of understanding place as a ‘natural starting point for understanding being’.1 Autobiographies of fifties middle- and working-class childhood have commonly identified the psychological security deriving from the stable social and economic conditions of the post-war boom.2 These are the

in Young lives on the Left

This study reveals the desperate plight of the poor, neglected, illegitimate and abused children in an Irish society that claimed to ‘cherish’ and hold them sacred, but in fact marginalized and ignored them. It examines the history of childhood in post-independence Ireland, breaking new ground in examining the role of the state in caring for its most vulnerable citizens. In foregrounding policy and practice as it related to poor, illegitimate and abused children, the book gives voice to historical actors who formed a significant proportion of the Irish population but who have been ignored and marginalized in the historical record. Moreover, it uses the experiences of those children as lenses through which to re-evaluate the Catholic influence in post-independence Irish society. The historiography on church and state in modern Ireland tends to emphasise the formal means through which the church sought to ensure that Irish social policy was infused with Catholic principles. While it is almost cliché to suggest that the Catholic Church exerted influence over many aspects of Irish life, there have been few attempts to examine what this meant in practical terms. The book offers a different interpretation of the relationship between and among the Catholic Church, the political establishment and Irish people.