Advertisement

Theorising Children’s Bodies. A Critical Review of Relational Understandings in Childhood Studies

  • Florian Eßer
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Childhood and Youth book series (SCY)

Abstract

This chapter takes a relational understanding of agency as its starting point in order to systematise up-to-date approaches to reconceptualising the body in childhood studies. Starting from the observation that childhood studies has long had difficulty with the theorisation of the body, empirical studies are presented that approach the child’s body from the perspective of science and technology studies, of practice theory and of phenomenology. The thesis of the chapter is that the yield of a theorisation of the body is not limited to this, but, at the same time, helps to overcome common dichotomies in childhood studies between childhood as a social construct and children as actors. These can be dissolved in favour of a concept of childhood that is both material and social.

References

  1. Bollig, S., & Kelle, H. (2016). Children as participants in practice. In F. Eßer, M. S. Baader, T. Betz, & B. Hungerland (Eds.), Reconceptualising agency and childhood. New perspectives in Childhood Studies (pp. 34–47). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Burman, E. (1994). Deconstructing developmental psychology. London, New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Callon, M. (1986). Some elements of a sociology of translation: Domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In J. Law (Ed.), Power, action and belief: A new sociology of knowledge? (pp. 196–223). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Castañeda, C. (2002). Figurations. Child, bodies, worlds. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cockburn, T. (2013). Rethinking children’s citizenship. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crossley, N. (2001). The social body. Habit, identity and desire. London [u.a.]: SAGE.Google Scholar
  7. Crossley, N. (2006). The networked body and the question of reflexivity. In D. Waskul & P. Vannini (Eds.), Body/embodiment. Symbolic interaction and the sociology of the body (pp. 21–33). Hampshire: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  8. Dépelteau, F. (2013). What is the direction of the ‘relational turn’? In C. Powell & F. Dépelteau (Eds.), Conceptualizing relational sociology. Ontological and theoretical issues (pp. 163–185). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eßer, F. (2015). Fabricating the developing child in institutions of education. A historical approach to documentation. Children & Society, 29(3), 174–183. https://doi.org/10.1111/chso.12113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eßer, F. (2016). Children’s agency and welfare organizations from an intergenerational perspective. In S. Punch, R. Vanderbeck, & T. Skelton (Eds.), Families, intergenerationality, and peer group relations (pp. 1–22). Singapore: Springer Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-4585-92-7_21-1.Google Scholar
  11. Eßer, F. (2017a). Enacting the overweight body in residential child care: Eating and agency beyond the nature–culture divide. Childhood, 24(0), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568216688245.Google Scholar
  12. Eßer, F. (2017b). Touch in residential child care: Staff’s bodies and children’s agency. European Journal of Social Work, 20. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2017.1289898,1-11.
  13. Eßer, F., Baader, M. S., Betz, T., & Hungerland, B. (Eds.). (2016). Reconceptualising agency and childhood. New perspectives in Childhood Studies. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Fuchs, S. (2001a). Against essentialism. A theory of culture and society. Cambridge u.a.: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fuchs, S. (2001b). Beyond agency. Sociological Theory, 19(1), 24–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goodwin, D. (2008). Refashioning bodies, reshaping agency. Science, Technology & Human Values, 33(3), 345–363. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243907306694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grosz, E. (1995). Space, time and perversion: Essays on the politics of bodies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Haraway, D. J. (1991). A Cyborg Manifesto. Science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century. In D. Haraway (Ed.), Simians, cyborgs and women (pp. 149–181). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Hays, S. (1994). Structure and agency and the sticky problem of culture. Sociological Theory, 12(1), 57–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Heidegger, M. (1927/2001). Sein und Zeit (18 Aufl.). Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  21. James, A. (2009). Agency. In J. Qvortrup, W. A. Corsaro, & M.-S. Honig (Eds.), The Palgrave handbook of Childhood Studies (pp. 34–45). Basingstoke, Hampshire u.a.: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  22. Kelle, H. (2010). Age-Appropriate Development’ as Measure and Norm. An ethnographic study on the practical anthropology of routine paediatric checkups. Childhood, 17(1), 9–25. https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568209351548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kraftl, P. (2013). Beyond ‘voice’, beyond ‘agency’, beyond ‘politics’? Hybrid childhoods and some critical reflections on children’s emotional geographies. Emotion, Space and Society, 9, 13–23. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2013.01.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kraftl, P. (2015). Alter-childhoods: Biopolitics and childhoods in alternative education spaces. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 105(1), 219–237. https://doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2014.962969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
  26. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social. An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Law, J. (1999). After ANT. Complexity, naming and topology. In J. Law & J. Hassard (Eds.), Actor network theory and after. Oxford u.a.: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Leder, D. (1990). Flesh and blood: A proposed supplement to Merleau-Ponty. Human Studies, 13, 209–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee, N. (2008). Awake, asleep, adult, child: An a-humanist account of persons. Body & Society, 14(4), 57–74. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X08096895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lee, N., & Motzkau, J. (2011). Navigating the bio-politics of childhood. Childhood, 18(1), 7–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568210371526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lynch, M. (1997). Scientific practice and ordinary action: Ethnomethodology and social studies of science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1968). The visible and the invisible. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Merleau-Ponty, M. (2012/1945). Phenomenology of perception. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Middleton, D., & Brown, S. D. (2005). Net-working on a neonatal intensive care unit. The baby as a virtual object. In B. Czarniawska & T. Hernes (Eds.), Actor-network theory and organizing (pp. 307–350). Malmö: Liber & Copenhagen Business School Press.Google Scholar
  35. Mol, A. (2013). Mind your plate! The ontonorms of Dutch dieting. Social Studies of Science, 43(3), 379–396. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312712456948. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moran-Ellis, J., & Venn, S. (2007). The sleeping lives of children and teenagers: Night-worlds and arenas of action. Sociological Research Online, 12(5), http://www.socresonline.org.uk.
  37. Oswell, D. (2013). The agency of children. From family to global human rights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Oswell, D. (2016). Re-aligning children’s agency and re-socialising children in Childhood Studies. In F. Eßer, M. S. Baader, T. Betz, & B. Hungerland (Eds.), Reconceptualising agency and childhood. New perspectives in Childhood Studies (pp. 19–33). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Place, B. (2000). Constructing the bodies of ill children in the intensive care unit. In A. Prout (Ed.), The body, childhood and society (pp. 172–194). Houndmills: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Prout, A. (2000). Childhood bodies. Construction, agency and hybridity. In A. Prout (Ed.), The body, childhood and society (pp. 1–18). Houndmills: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Prout, A., & James, A. (1990). A new paradigm for the sociology of childhood? Provenance, promise and problems. In A. James & A. Prout (Eds.), Constructing and reconstructing childhood. Contemporary issues in the sociological study of childhood (pp. 7–34). London/New York/Philadelphia: Routledge/Falmer.Google Scholar
  42. Reckwitz, A. (2010). Toward a theory of social practices. A development in culturalist theorizing. In M. Bevir (Ed.), Interpretive political science (pp. 275–298). Los Angeles: SAGE.Google Scholar
  43. Ryan, K. W. (2011). The new wave of Childhood Studies: Breaking the grip of bio-social dualism? Childhood, 19(4), 439–452. https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568211427612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schatzki, T. R. (2001). Introduction: Practice theory. In T. R. Schatzki, K. Knorr-Cetina, & E. V. Savigny (Eds.), The practice turn in contemporary theory (pp. 10–23). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Schatzki, T. R., Knorr-Cetina, K., & Savigny, E. V. (Eds.). (2001). The practice turn in contemporary theory. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Schulz, M. (2015). The documentation of children’s learning in early childhood education. Children & Society, 29(3), 209–218. https://doi.org/10.1111/chso.12112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sharrock, W. (2004). What Garfinkel makes of Schutz: The past, present and future of an alternate, asymmetric and incommensurable approach to sociology. Theory & Science, 5(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
  48. Shilling, C. (2012). The body and social theory (3rd ed.). Los Angeles [u.a.]: SAGE.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Stainton Rogers, R., & Stainton Rogers, W. (1992). Stories of childhood. Shifting agendas of child concern. Hassocks: Harvester.Google Scholar
  50. Tahhan, D. A. (2008). Depth and space in sleep: Intimacy, touch and the body in Japanese co-sleeping rituals. Body & Society, 14(4), 37–56. https://doi.org/10.1177/1357034X08096894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Turmel, A. (2008). A historical sociology of childhood. Developmental thinking, categorization and graphic visualization. Cambridge u.a.: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Valentine, G. (2010). Children’s bodies: An absent presence. In K. Hörschelmann & R. Colls (Eds.), Contested bodies of childhood and youth (pp. 22–37). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Valentine, K. (2011). Accounting for agency. Children & Society, 25, 347–358. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1099-0860.2009.00279.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. van de Port, M., & Mol, A. (2015). Chupar frutas in Salvador da Bahia: A case of practice-specific alterities. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 21(1), 165–180. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wacquant, L. c. (2015). For a sociology of flesh and blood. Qualitative Sociology, 38, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11133-014-9291-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Eßer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HildesheimHildesheimGermany

Personalised recommendations