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The moral rhetoric of childhood

Meyer, Anneke (2007) The moral rhetoric of childhood. Childhood, 2007, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 85-104. ISSN 1461-7013

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In the UK, the discourse of innocence currently prevails as a major way of understanding children. This article argues that the strength of this discourse lies in its prevalence, its resistance to challenges and the ways in which it connects ideas of innocence and vulnerability. The moral quality of the discourse of innocence works in conjunction with the sacred status of the child, to produce childhood as a moral rhetoric. Children and childhood function to explain and legitimize any practice or opinion as right while removing the necessity to provide reasons: children are the reason. The article also considers how issues around childhood and morality are implicated in the generation of social concern with risks affecting children.

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