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Every Different Child Matters: understanding the construction of children’s stories of difference and normalcy in the twenty- first century

Davidge, Gail (2011) Every Different Child Matters: understanding the construction of children’s stories of difference and normalcy in the twenty- first century. Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

Within the context of this ethnographic study, children communicated a range of accounts that reflected the extent to which understandings of ‘being’ a child were grounded in the capitulation of normative practices of ‘childhood’. An analysis of children’s stories of school and family life provided an insight into the ways in which different ‘pedagogic voices’ (Hoskin, 1990, p. 37) and expectations of ‘others’ are internalised and constitute a basis for understandings of the ‘self’, especially in terms of normalcy and acceptable behaviour. According to Rose (1999, p.76) norms are ‘socially worthy, statistically average, scientifically healthy and personally desirable’. Complicit acceptance of such ‘norms’ and the desire to please and conform to the narrative of the ‘good child’ featured as a fundamental theme. These stories also communicated temporal, spatial and structural aspects of children’s experiences that positioned identity as a linear trajectory of development in terms of ‘becoming’ adult, within a variety of interdependent social systems. The ways in which children engaged with such institutional practices appeared to play an integral role in the shaping of their understandings of ‘the self’ and ‘other’. This is reflected in the remaining themes that emerged; namely the ‘celebrated’ other and ‘marginalized’ other.

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