The Sociology of Early Childhood is a theoretically and historically grounded examination of young children’s experiences in contemporary society. Arguing that a sociology of early childhood must bring together and integrate different disciplines, this book: • synthesises different sociological perspectives on childhood as well as incorporating multi-disciplinary research findings on the lives of young children • explains key theoretical concepts in early childhood studies such as investment, early intervention, professional power and discourse • examines the importance of play, memory and place • evaluates long term parenting trends • uses illustrative examples and case studies, discussion questions and annotated further reading to engage and stimulate readers. Invigorating and thought provoking, this is an invaluable read for advanced undergraduates and postgraduate students looking for a more nuanced and progressive understanding of childhood.
Chapter 1: Introduction
In this book we will develop a relational sociology of early childhood by focusing on the earliest experiences of young children. At birth, babies are born in total dependency on their mother or carers and only gradually do they develop attachments to other people around them ‒ fathers, siblings, grandparents, other relatives and friends, teachers or classmates. Young children are born into and grow up in interdependent relationships that change but are historically structured in different societies. In early childhood, this network is relatively small and the balance is tilted towards dependency on older adults. The lives of young children should therefore be seen as intersections in a network that slowly form part of a wider figuration of relationships in society.
As they grow ...