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Children, politics and communication

Children, politics and communication: Participation at the margins

Edited by Nigel Thomas
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  • Book Info
    Children, politics and communication
    Book Description:

    Even after 20 years of children's rights and new thinking about childhood, children are still frequently seen as apolitical. All over the world there has been a growing emphasis on 'participation', but much of this is adult-led, and spaces for children's individual and collective autonomy are limited. Children, politics and communication questions many of the conventional ways in which children are perceived. It focuses on the politics of children's communication, in two senses: children as political actors, and the micropolitics of children's interaction with each other and with adults. It looks at how children and young people communicate and engage, how they organise themselves and their lives, and how they deal with conflict in their relationships and the world around them. These are children at the margins, in various ways, but they are not victims; they are finding ways to take charge of their own lives. The book is also about adults and how they can interact with children and young people in ways that are sensitive to children's feelings, empowering and supportive of their attempts to be autonomous. With international contributions from a range of disciplines, Children, politics and communication is timely and relevant for policy makers, practitioners and researchers engaging with children and young people.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-185-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Trisha Maynard

    This challenging book had its origins in the seminar series convened by Nigel Thomas when he was a colleague in the Department of Childhood Studies at Swansea University. From its inception the Department, now the Centre for Child Research, has featured a strong shared commitment to interdisciplinary work informed by a discourse of children’s rights, and in particular to exploring the potential and meaning of children’s ‘participation’. Our disciplines include sociology, education, psychology and health sciences, each with its own knowledge base and values, and implicit and explicit ways of thinking, acting and meaning-making. Viewing the child as competent is...

  2. Introduction: children, politics and communication
    (pp. 1-6)
    Nigel Thomas

    This book is about how children and young people communicate about matters of importance or difficulty, how they decide what to tell adults and what not to tell them, how they organise themselves and their lives and how they deal with conflict in their own relationships and in the world around them. It is also about how adults can interact effectively with children and young people, on both an individual and a societal level, in ways that are sensitive to their feelings and empowering and supportive of their attempts to be autonomous. All contributors start with two assumptions: that children...

  3. ONE Charting change in the participatory settings of childhood: a very modest beginning
    (pp. 7-30)
    Roger Hart

    Participation has become a word that everyone seems to use today to legitimise their programmes with groups that are considered in some way to be marginalised. This includes a wealth of discussions about the growth of ‘children’s participation’ in society in line with the call of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The phrase is used with people working within very different ideologies concerning the appropriate roles of children, but almost all of them write about children’s programmed activities. In the UK, most of the emphasis seems to be on children’s participation in decision making...

  4. TWO Children’s autonomous organisation: reflections from the ground
    (pp. 31-48)
    Vicky Johnson

    This chapter draws primarily on research in community settings in the UK, but also on international examples, to explore some of the tensions around children and young people’s autonomous organisation in everyday life. Taking ‘autonomous’ to mean self-governing and independent, I look at how organisation and communication initiated by children and young people can be either facilitated or blocked by adults, sometimes being seen as ‘anti-social behaviour’. Attitudes that exclude children and young people from decision making, and policies that restrict the safe spaces where they can meet and communicate with each other, are contrasted with ways in which adults...

  5. THREE The children of Loxicha: participation beyond the UNCRC rhetoric?
    (pp. 49-68)
    Anne-Marie Smith

    I met the displaced ‘children of Loxicha’ while carrying out my doctoral fieldwork in Oaxaca City, Mexico, between 2001 and 2002. In Oaxaca City they were simply referred to (by journalists, residents and local non-governmental organisations [NGOs]) as ‘los Loxicha’. Their real home is San Agustín Loxicha, located in the southern region of the state of Oaxaca, as detailed below, but this chapter is based on their time living in a protest camp and a shelter in the city of Oaxaca.

    At the time of this research the group was made up of approximately 15 children ranging from age three...

  6. FOUR Displaced children’s participation in political violence: towards greater understanding of mobilisation
    (pp. 69-88)
    Jason Hart

    In his filmTurtles Can Fly, Bahman Ghobadi presents a stark picture of Iraqi Kurdish children and their struggles to survive around the time of the US-led invasion of 2003. Towards the end of the film a group of boys head off to the nearby town to obtain guns and then set these up on the roof of their school as defence against a possible military attack. This is not recruitment in the conventional sense but the self-mobilisation of a group of children under the leadership of a 13-year-old. Ghobadi’s film also shows us the rape by Iraqi soldiers of...

  7. FIVE Between a rock and a hard place: negotiating age and identity in the UK asylum system
    (pp. 89-106)
    Heaven Crawley

    The experiences of separated children who seek asylum in the UK and attempt to negotiate the complex array of individuals and institutions with whom they come into contact is increasingly well documented (Bhabha and Finch, 2007). Less often considered is the extent to which the success – or otherwise – of these children in securing refugee status and access to appropriate housing, welfare and educational support is determined not only by their individual experiences and abilities, but also by a particular conceptualisation of ‘childhood’ that pervades the asylum process. This chapter examines the ways in which children’s experiences of conflict,...

  8. SIX Understanding silences and secrets when working with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
    (pp. 107-122)
    Ravi Kohli

    In making claims for sanctuary, asylum seekers tell stories of their persecution and flight, which they hope will get them through whatever border stands between them and an ordinary life outside their homeland. Sometimes, when they have to, they embellish their experiences, rewrite their scripts, polish up the presentation and talk of persecution in compelling ways. They sometimes pluck out a series of linear events even when their lives and trajectories are wayward and untidy, because the ways in which asylum receptors accept stories are often in linear form, with a sequence of suffering making the links in a chain...

  9. SEVEN Doing Britishness: multilingual practices, creativity and criticality of British Chinese children
    (pp. 123-144)
    Li Wei, Zhu Hua and Chao-Jung Wu

    Sociolinguists have long argued that language plays a crucial role in revealing and constructing a speaker’s identity (for example, Edwards, 1985; Le Page and Tabouret-Keller, 1985). Recent public debate in the UK over what constitutes Britishness provides new impetus to the line of research where linguistic practices are seen as both markers and makers of individuals’ as well as groups’ identities. So far, attention has mainly been paid to how specific ethnic and sociocultural identities are constructed through distinctive ways of language use or how speakers borrow features of another ethnic or social group’s language to index particular identities (for...

  10. EIGHT Closings in young children’s disputes: resolution, dissipation and teacher intervention
    (pp. 145-166)
    Amelia Church

    As other contributors to this volume have shown, children’s communications are often misheard or unheard. One reason is that in many settings children are powerless to make themselves heard. Another is that adults do not have sufficient understanding of how children communicate. For example, young children are active participants in constructing their own social worlds, yet adults may impinge on this process without a full understanding of how children go about creating rule-governed environments in which they are capable agents. This chapter shows how conversation analysis can be a tool for understanding how children communicate and engage, how they deal...

  11. NINE Keeping connected: textual cohesion and textual selves, how young people stay together online
    (pp. 167-184)
    Julia Davies

    In this chapter I draw on observations from research spanning the last decade, in which I have been tracing paths that children, young people and adults have made through their online interactivity. Some of the data I analyse are drawn from the activities of those ‘early adopters’ who have pioneered the use of technology as a way of connecting socially (Wildfyre, 1997a; Verdi, 2004). Others whose texts I consider have been part of a generation of youngsters who have taken part in online activities alongside their peers and friends as part of a more recent popular culture interest in social...

  12. Conclusion: autonomy, dialogue and recognition
    (pp. 185-198)
    Nigel Thomas

    These words by Roger Waters were sung by pupils from Islington Green School on the recording ofAnother Brick in the Wall (Part 2), the rock band Pink Floyd’s biggest hit single. The record reached Number 1 in the British music charts on 15 December 1979, and stayed there for five weeks, the much-desired Christmas Number 1. It was put there by young people, many of them still at school, who one presumes were responding to the words at least as much as to the music. Along with its popularity, the song aroused intense hostility, not only from the tabloid...