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.
Education has long been central to the struggle for radical social change. Yet, as social class inequalities sustain and deepen, it is increasingly difficult to conceptualise and understand the possibility for ‘emancipatory’ education. In Radical Childhoods Jessica Gerrard takes up this challenge by theoretically considering how education might contribute to radical social change, alongside an in-depth comparative historical enquiry. Attending to the shifting nature of class, race, and gender relations in British society, this book offers a thoughtful account of two of the most significant community-based schooling initiatives in British history: the Socialist Sunday School (est. 1892) and Black Saturday/Supplementary School (est. 1967) movements. Part I situates Radical Childhoods within contemporary policy and practice contexts, before turning to critical social theory to consider the possibility for ‘emancipatory’ education. Offering detailed analyses of archival material and oral testimony, Parts II and III chronicle the social histories of the Socialist Sunday School and Black Saturday/Supplementary School movements, including their endeavour to create alternative cultures of radical education and their contested relationships to the state and wider socialist and black political movements. Radical Childhoods argues that despite appearing to be on the ‘margins’ of the ‘public sphere’, these schools were important sites of political struggle. In Part IV, Gerrard develops upon Nancy Fraser’s conception of counter-publics to argue for a more reflexive understanding of the role of education in social change, accounting for the shifting boundaries of public struggle, as well as confronting normative (and gendered) notions of ‘what counts’ as political struggle.
When Claire and her brothers and sisters arrived home from school in the
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
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
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.
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
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
From the mid-nineteenth century, disability in childhood became an issue of increasing interest to the British medical and educational communities as ‘Victorians sought to better identify, categorise and manage those individuals who were unable to conform to society's expectations’.
With the founding of the first paediatric hospitals and the introduction of compulsory elementary education, children's abilities and disabilities were analysed and assessed on an unprecedented scale. Many of the
A socioeconomic profile of
John Cullinan and Aine Roddy
According to the most recent Census of Population for Ireland, there were 75,770
persons aged 19 years or less with a disability in Ireland in 2011, representing
6.0% of all persons in that cohort in the State (CSO, 2012). While it is widely
acknowledged that children who experience an ongoing medical condition or
disability face irreducible needs that must be met in order that they reach their
full potential (Blackburn et al., 2010; Petrenchik, 2008), less attention