File(s) under permanent embargo
The several social constructions of James, Jenks, and Prout: A contribution to the sociological theorization of childhood
journal contributionposted on 2002-01-01, 00:00 authored by John MorssJohn Morss
The article is intended to contribute to the ongoing debate over theorizations of childhood, especially in the terms articulated by Allison James, Chris Jenkins and Alan Prout. The article focuses on the notion of social construction as a theory of childhood. There are four valid approaches to theorizing childhood. The tribal approach treats childhood as a kind of exotic tribe with its own beliefs, practices and institutions. The social structural approach treats childhood as a structurally necessary stratum in any society. The minority group approach treats childhood as an oppressed minority group, able to some extent to represent themselves and exert quasi-political action. The socially constructed approach constitutes the sociological view of childhood. The key role played by the idea of social construction is made extremely clear in the earlier work, Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood by James and Prout. Social constructionism is said to be an interpretive approach, related historically to research on children's understanding of adult experimenters' intentions. The senses of social construction that emerge from critical psychology overlap a great deal with those articulated in the new sociology of childhood.