Learning from the Children

Learning from the Children: Childhood, Culture and Identity in a Changing World

Jacqueline Waldren
Ignacy-Marek Kaminski
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 204
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  • Book Info
    Learning from the Children
    Book Description:

    Children and youth, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, are experiencing lifestyle choices their parents never imagined and contributing to the transformation of ideals, traditions, education and adult-child power dynamics. As a result of the advances in technology and media as well as the effects of globalization, the transmission of social and cultural practices from parents to children is changing. Based on a number of qualitative studies, this book offers insights into the lives of children and youth in Britain, Japan, Spain, Israel/Palestine, and Pakistan. Attention is focused on the child's perspective within the social-power dynamics involved in adult-child relations, which reveals the dilemmas of policy, planning and parenting in a changing world.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-326-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Jacqueline Waldren and Ignacy-Marek Kaminski

    Children, teens, and youth are some of the categories used to describe phases of growing into adulthood. Anthropologists resist universal definitions of children and childhood, recognizing the socio-cultural differences in children’s lives around the world. Childhood can be said to be fabricated, invented or constructed in the sense that ideas and practices associated with positive child development are not the same around the world or even within a single society (Shweder 2009: xxviii).

    Adults once assumed children everywhere represented something weak and help less, in need of protection, supervision, training, models, skills, beliefs, education (Mead and Wolfenstein 1955: 7). This...


    • Chapter 1 Invisible Routes, Invisible Lives: The Multiple Worlds of Runaway and Missing Women and Girls in Upper Sindh, Pakistan
      (pp. 19-34)
      Nafisa Shah

      This case study of runaway women and girls in Upper Sindh¹ has a twofold ob jective: first, to examine what role gender, or being a female, plays in the social making of the girls and by that premise, what roles notions of childhood and adulthood play in women’s identity.² This is also primarily the reason why both girls and women are the subject of this case study. I propose to examine how notions of adulthood and childhood are gendered by seeing how women and children are constructed jointly as minors.³ Here I look at systems of marriage and concepts of...

    • Chapter 2 Between Tradition and Modernization: Understanding The Problem of Female Bedouin Dropouts
      (pp. 35-50)
      Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder

      This study discusses the problem of Bedouin girls dropping out from the public school system in the Negev region of Israel.¹ Data show that this phenomenon results from a conflict between the modern Israeli institutes’ perception of modernity (which promote coeducation) and the Bedouin traditions that remain the cultural ethos of the girls’ fathers. Israeli institutions’ perception of modernity (enlightenment theory) aims to modernize the Bedouins according to Israel’s modern principles, thus revoking traditional Bedouin values (sex separation). This paper promotes a postmodern theory that calls for embedding feminine traditional values of local communities as a necessary process in the...


    • Chapter 3 More than One Rung on the Career Ladder: Examining Barriers to the Labour Market for Young Women Living in Poverty
      (pp. 53-69)
      Lucy Russell and Louisa Darian

      YWCA England & Wales understands poverty as primarily a lack of money and not having what others in society have for a decent quality of life. However, it is not just the condition of being without adequate food, money, etc., but goes beyond material things; living in poverty can affect the way a person is treated and how they feel. It can mean feeling powerless and excluded, leading to a loss of dignity and selfesteem. Some young women do reject it as a term, some feel it is a negative label and that to be poor is also to be...

    • Chapter 4 ‘We’re Not Poor–The Others Are’: Talking with Children about Poverty and Social Exclusion in Milton Keynes, England
      (pp. 70-82)
      Anna Lærke

      In 2005–2008, I conducted an independent qualitative evaluation of the Children’s Fund services in Milton Keynes. My brief was simple, although the job was not: to provide an ongoing evaluation of how the Milton Keynes Children’s Fund (MKCF) services were experienced and used, on the ground, by children and their families; to do so on the basis of ethnographic data collection; and to feed back my findings in interim reports regularly presented to the MKCF Management Board.¹

      Data were collected slowly and over a long period of time, mainly through participant-observation, focus group facilitation, and group interviews with children...

    • Chapter 5 Dancing with an Angel: What I Have Learnt from My ‘Special Needs’ Daughter, Elisa
      (pp. 83-91)
      Elsa L. Dawson

      The look of sheer wonderment in Elisa’s eyes captivated me. She hugged me yet again as if to thank me for bringing her to this magical world. We were in the beer tent at Towersey Folk Music Festival, where we can be found every August Bank Holiday. A group of drinkers spontaneously strummed accordions, banjos and violins in a trance -like devotion to the Celtic spirit. Elisa moved in her version of dance around the tables – swaying her head and upper body from side to side to the music and running around, grabbing anyone who attracted her attention to join...

    • Chapter 6 Being Parented? Children and Young People’s Engagement with Parenting Activities
      (pp. 92-108)
      Julie Seymour and Sally McNamee

      There is currently a huge focus on the activity and outcomes of parenting. This occurs in the academic world–for example in terms of research on parenting post divorce and separation, (Smart et al. 2001), step-parenting (Ribbens McCarthy et al. 2003) and fatherhood (Dermott 2008) – and in lay discourse and the media. In the UK, parenting is now also a growing area of policy intervention (Gillies 2005) including Sure Start schemes, Parenting Contracts and Orders related to youth offending, and recent reports such asSupporting Parents(CSCI 2006) andEvery Parent Matters(DfES 2007). Much of this intervention focuses on...


    • Chapter 7 Children’s Moving Stories: How the Children of British Lifestyle Migrants Cope with Super-Diversity
      (pp. 111-125)
      Karen O’Reilly

      In 1993, as a novice ethnographer and PhD student, I moved out to Spain with my family for 15 months to research the British community living on the Costa del Sol. My children were then 9 and 11 years old and I enrolled them in Spanish school for a year, telling myself I would be happy if all they managed was to learn the language. Since then they have both lived in Spain for some time as young adults. One has also lived in Ecuador and Peru and is now married to a Peruvian; the other has helped produce training...

    • Chapter 8 Children Negotiating Identity in Mallorca
      (pp. 126-145)
      Jacqueline Waldren

      Changes in the meanings and realities of childhood in the small Mallorcan village of Deia can be traced through the experiences of foreign and local children growing up there during the Franco regime (1936–75) and after Spain became a democraticnation in 1978 until the present. Childhood held different meanings during these political climates and the roles, agency and positions of children in society have altered considerably. Both the transnational and ‘local’ children are actively influencing cultural transitions and can no longer be treated merely as extensions to adult studies.

      Cultural differences in the meanings of childhood become evident as...

    • Chapter 9 Identity Without birthright: Negotiating Children’s Citizenship and Identity in Cross-Cultural Bureaucracy
      (pp. 146-169)
      Ignacy-Marek Kaminski

      Anthropologists define parenting as the behaviour of adults nurturing their children – ideally a two-way relationship of positive feedback between the parent and child that can be achieved in a panoply of different culturally specific ways. This perspective is international but not transnational.¹ It overlooks the possibility of children’s statelessness, a grey zone of cross-cultural bureaucracy that can impact profoundly on children’s identities.

      It is generally taken for granted that a child at birth will be accepted as a member of the nation within which s/he is born (jus soli–right of the soil) and/or of the nation of the child’s...

    • Chapter 10 Doing Fieldwork with Children in Japan
      (pp. 170-178)
      Roger Goodman

      Mary Bateson, the daughter of possibly the most famous anthropologists to study child socialization, Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, is often said to be the most highly anthropologized child of all time and, when a student, was told by her mother that she could not discard her childhood paintings because she ‘had probably had the best-documented childhood in the United States’ (Bateson 1984: 30). The psychologist, R.D. Laing (1978), recorded his conversations with his children over a six-year period and presented them as material for others to analyse how children develop their cognitive universes. My children have suffered similarly from...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 179-182)
  11. Index
    (pp. 183-192)