A recent proposal to establish a British Sociological Association (BSA) Childhood Study Group has been successful and the Group was officially launched at the BSA Conference in Cardiff on 16 April, 2009. It is intended that the Group will promote the sociological study of children, childhood, and children’s issues. It is anticipated that a range of contexts will be explored but with a clear focus on children, childhood, and the experience of children from a number of perspectives.
The substantive areas of childhood to be covered include:
- Sociology of childhood
- Contemporary issues in childhood
- Historical perspectives on childhood
- Policy issues related specifically to children
- Children, risk and society
- Researching children
The aims of the Childhood Study Group are to:
- Exchange and develop ideas
- Encourage collaboration and lend support
- Encourage research and publication around the sociology of childhood
- Promote the sociological understanding of children
- To develop a programme of events
- To develop links with other sociological and related childhood organisations
The Sociology of Childhood as a specific area of academic study emerged with the publication of a number of early works in this field during the 1980s. Amongst others, these include:
Jenks, C., The Sociology of Childhood (1982)
James and Prout, Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood (1990)
Corsaro, W., The Sociology of Childhood (1997)
Wyness, M., Contesting Childhood (1999)
There has been an increase in Childhood Studies within Higher Education institutions over the past 5 – 10 years, with a strong demand for knowledge and information in this area from academics, lecturers, researchers, and postgraduate students. In 2007 there were a total of 26 Higher Education providers offering degree programmes in Early Childhood Studies. Many of these programmes have a Sociology of Childhood module whilst others address issues more broadly across the programme of study. There has also been a growth in the number of Masters programmes with a focus on Childhood. It is hoped that this Study Group will provide for the exchange of information, professional collaboration, and the development of research in this area.
Added to this there has been the professionalisation of the early years workforce, with the Government seeking to increase qualifications (e.g. through the Children’s Workforce Development Council) in this area of employment. Moreover, there is now a growing number of graduates in Early Childhood Studies moving into professional areas. The introduction of the Early Years Professional Status (EYPS) will also enhance the level of knowledge and skills of professionals in the field. This should lead to a greater awareness of the role of knowledge transfer and research amongst practitioners. This has the potential to offer fruitful collaboration between academics and practitioners with greater opportunities for applied research.
The growth in the development of Higher Education programmes, together with increasing professionalisation and the Government’s increased focus on children (e.g. targets in reducing child poverty), has resulted in a greater number of lecturers and academics teaching and researching in this field.
- The Childhood Study Group details can be accessed via a link from the BSA website www.britsoc.co.uk.
- The first Seminar Event will take place on 6 July 2009 hosted by University College Birmingham within their Annual Conference, to be held in central Birmingham. The Childhood Study Group sessions include papers around the broad themes of Health, Education, Community, and Family.
It is anticipated that the Group will hold regular meetings, seminars, and workshops as well as providing a forum for discussion and a web page. We encourage collaborative working, the presentation of short papers, work in progress, or current research updates.
Membership is free to BSA members but is open to all. To add your name to the Childhood Study Group mailing list please contact Chris Lancucki at [email protected]
Programme Manager BA ECS,
School of Childhood and Education,
University College Birmingham,
Birmingham B3 1JB.