CFP – Volume for Sociological Studies of Childhood and Youth: Bringing Children Back Into the Family

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Call for papers
Bringing Children Back into the Family

We are looking for contributions for Volume 25 of the Sociological Studies of Childhood and Youth. This special edited collection will open a window into the lives of children’s experiences within the home. How have constructed understandings of the ‘family’ and of ‘parents’ impacted on children’s experiences? To what extent can valuing the voice of the child change our perspective of family life and the policies and practices that flow through it? These questions invite us to explore the structure-agency dialogue and to draw off theories embedded in the Sociology of Childhood in conjunction with ideas that originally emerged in Family Studies, as a means of re-presenting that ‘family space’ and the role of the individual child within it and as part of it.

Increasingly we are recognising the value of opening windows into those spaces where children experience their everyday lives. Theorists in the UK have offered a new perspective through which to understand the interrelationship of the individual within the structure of the family. It has highlighted themes such as display (Finch, 2007), personal lives (Smart, 2007) and family practices (Morgan, 2013) and generagency (Leonard, 2015). It is a desire to re-apply such thinking in the context of children’s lives in the family that sits behind this proposal. Traditional approaches to the institution of the family within social theory has been dominated by a one-dimensional interpretation of the role of the child, summed up by the child’s passivity in the face of adult direction. However, as McNamee and Seymour have noted, our growing awareness of children as social agents means that our ability to interpret family life can only be fully understood by ‘zooming out’ and recognising the wider web of family relations and interactions. They suggest that ‘what is needed now is to examine everyday life in the context of agency and structure and to bring children back in to the families [italics added] from which they were conceptually separated’ (2012: 103). Our ambition here would therefore be to present Sociological perspectives that allow us to explore how those play out in policy and practice. Through this, we aim to understand the multi-dimensional nature of children’s relationships within the home and the extent to which such experiences shape children’s meaning making and as a result how they come to both position themselves and consequently navigate home and the spaces beyond. To aid this endeavor, we will also be inviting practitioners and children to be part of this collection so that they can ‘speak’ to sociology.

This call invites scholars to be part of painting that picture of children’s everyday lives within the family. It will be necessary to acknowledge what frames the institution of the family, demanding insight from, for example, history, children’s geography, social policy, law and health care. Structure shapes practices, as such we wish to explore children’s experiences of rules and negotiation, generagency, opportunities to participate, and essential understandings around belonging. We are interested in how children ‘do’ and ‘display’ family. This invites consideration of the virtual world as well as the influence ‘home’ has on children in other everyday spaces. We, therefore, invite contributions that demonstrate how an increased awareness of children’s personal lives and the structure in which this is enacted offers a means to unpack that deeply relationally dominated world that is the family, with significant implications for policy, practice and children’s ongoing experiences.

This collection is being edited by Dr. Sam Frankel and Dr. Sally McNamee from King’s University College at Western University, Canada. Our interests reflect a range of theoretical and practice-based experience that we hope to encourage in a truly multidisciplinary response to this topic.

Please send 200 word abstract of your ideas to sfranke6@uwo.ca by 1 December 2018. Abstracts will be reviewed and authors invited to contribute a full chapter in the week of January 14. 6000-8000 word chapters to be submitted by 1 April 2019.