Theorising a University Module Exploring the Concept of "Voice" Arising in the UNCRC and the Social Study of Childhood

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


This contribution to the symposium, the first of three, takes as its starting point the UNCRC (1998), particularly the general principle enshrined in Article 12 - the right to be heard. The need for children to be heard in a context of civic, political, economic, social and cultural rights gives rise to analyses of children's experiences in relation with class, gender, race, (dis)ability, age, and the concept of rights itself (for example, Taefi 2009). This has led others to argue that 'intersectionality' is key to understanding diverse lives and the relation between children and the powerful structures that shape their lives (for example, Davis 2008). Consequently, 'intersectionality' has been a significant concept in Theorising children and childhoods. Others have argued against the proliferation of diversity (Qvortrup 2015, Alanen 2016) positing instead that childhood is the appropriate social category for exploring children's lives. This brings into view understanding of ethical practice (BERA 2013), models of participation (Hart 1992, Shier 2001), and mechanisms that give children a voice. Such debates in the social study of childhood have implications for how children, childhood and children's rights are taught and assessed in universities. Indeed, there is also a need to navigate any notion that university students and future practitioners, in a neoliberal higher education context, are passive recipients of knowledge. The paper thus seeks to trace the 'politics' of how the child's voice is brought into the analytical frame in a third year university module, drawing on a particular approach to social justice and political ethic of care (Toronto 1993).
Period29 Sep 2017
Event title27th European Early Childhood Education Research Association Annual Conference: Early Childhood Education Beyond the Crisis: Social Justice, Solidarity and Children's Rights
Event typeConference
Conference number27
LocationBologna, ItalyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational