Childhood studies has been critical of dominant models that construct children as a facet of social structure, as passive with regard to the processes of socialisation but also as locked into a linear structure of development (physiological, cognitive, social, or emotional) from infancy to adulthood. In contrast to these models, childhood studies has championed research and thinking about children as social actors and as agents of social order, reproduction, and change. This entry considers how children might be conceptualised as having agency and the import of such conceptualisation.

Dominant Models in the Social Sciences

The dominant models of children and childhood are reflected in the writings of social scientists over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Sociologist Émile Durkheim talked about childhood as a ...

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