SOCSI Seminar Series Spring 2009: Professor Ann Phoenix (Institute of Education & Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit) - Using ‘non-normative’ childhood experiences to negotiate ‘normative’ parenting
Starts: 12 February 2009
12th February – 4:10pm in Committee Room 1, Glamorgan Building
Speaker – Professor Ann Phoenix (Institute of Education & Co-Director of the Thomas Coram Research Unit)
Using ‘non-normative’ childhood experiences to negotiate ‘normative’ parenting
Over the last two decades, the notion that children are not passive recipients of childrearing has become commonplace in both psychology and the ‘new’ sociology of childhood. Lena Alanen (2001)coined the terms ‘generationing’ and ‘childing’ to give recognition to children’s active participation in the constitution and negotiation of relationships and their positioning. This paper draws on narratives from a study of ‘Transforming non-normative experiences’ to address an issue that is currently under-researched; the ways in which parents make sense of their own childhood experiences and apply their understandings to their parenting practices. The study includes adults who have three types of childhood experiences: those who, as children were left in the Caribbean when their parents migrated to the UK and later joined them; adults who grew up in households that were visibly ethnically different and those who were language brokers, interpreting and translating for their parents.
The paper argues that a focus on adults simultaneously as children and parents illuminates changes in generational cultures and ‘the state of the child’. For transnational migrant families, such micro-level analyses make clear how parenting and ‘childing’ are always situated in global and national contexts and are intersectional, being gendered, classed and racialised as well as generational. In practice, therefore, the notion of ‘the child as project’ (Halldén 1991) is differentiated within and across groups of parents and childhood experiences.
Alanen, L. (2001). Explorations in generational analysis. Conceptualizing Child-Adult relations. L. Alanen and B. Mayall. London, Routledge: 11-22.
Halldén, G. (1991). "The Child as project and the child as being: parents' ideas as frames or reference". Children & Society 5(4): 334-346.
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