Childhood in Crisis: Development in a Globalized World
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Undergraduate Studies
Department: Social Sciences
Course Number: NANT 3671
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Social Sciences
What is childhood? What are adults’ expectations of what children can and should do and how does this compare to the child’s experience. This class explores this question using a variety of sources, from detailed ethnographies conducted around the world, to texts and films about children, to policy interventions aimed at children’s wellbeing. We will consider the idea of childhood as a cultural construction; what about this experience could be considered universal and anchored in biological needs and development, and what is cultural? By exploring the stories we tell about childhood, and comparing the lived experience of childhood across different sociocultural and historical contexts, we can begin to think more critically about this time. More then just a “developmental phase”, children are active agents in the world, socialized into cultures while changing culture at the same time. Childhood as such is both a discursive construct needed to create specific types of social actors, but also a specific state of being (emotional, physical, biological and cultural). Finally, we will examine how prevailing discourses and ideologies of childhood have direct impact on the well-meaning interventions developed to address children’s needs, but which can fail in the context of communities with radically different ideas around children’s needs and roles. This will be highlighted looking social policy and interventions in situations as devastating and disturbing as child soldiers, child labor and child mortality.