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In Defence of Interdisciplinary Childhood Studies
Thu 30 March 2017, 17:00 – 18:00 BST
Although the study of childhood has a history going back at least to the nineteenth century, when the modern concept of childhood was constituted, the last thirty years have seen a period of growth in scholarly attention to it across many different disciplines, and a consolidation in its identity and self-confidence as a field of study. However, especially in the wake of the 2008 crisis, the social and academic mood is arguably becoming less expansionist and more intensified in its concern with short-term utility. At the same time there are increased pressures on expenditure and growing challenges to the rights discourses that so characterised the twentieth century and within which the emergence of Childhood Studies was entangled. Within such a scenario there may also be challenges to the continued emergence of interdisciplinary Childhood Studies. In this paper I will set out a defence of Childhood Studies as a serious topic of intellectual effort and an important focus for long term multi- and interdisciplinary efforts, arguing for a field of study that is concerned with both materialist and discursive analysis, both social and biological ontologies, and is both constructionist and deconstructionist in character.
Professor Prout joined the University of Leeds in July 2013 as a part-time member of staff. He has worked in the sociology of childhood for many years and held appointments at the universities of Cambridge, Keele, Hull, Stirling and Warwick.
He was Director of the ESRC “Children 5-16 Research Programme” and is an author of numerous books and papers in the social study of childhood.
Although he has also contributed to the sociology of health and illness, his main work has been in the sociology of childhood. He has contributed key theoretical texts to the field such as Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood, Theorizing Childhood and The Future of Childhood and empirical studies of childhood sickness, family health practices, childhood asthma, participation in public services and children’s use of e-toys.