Childhood has become central to socio-political debates and policy initiatives both nationally and globally. Despite the privileges afforded to children in the West, Western childhoods are no longer seen as the 'ideal' to which all should aspire. Recent reports and policy concerns suggest that growing up in the West may be marked by the commercialisation of childhood, leading to unhappiness, poor health, loss of innocence and a general lack of wellbeing among children themselves.
Understanding childhood is a fresh look at how childhood has changed in recent years and reveals how children's needs and experiences have achieved a new visibility. It introduces readers to the cross-disciplinary field of Childhood Studies and offers an exciting and unique exploration of childhood as a concept, in the process engaging with a range of contemporary issues that shape our ideas of childhood as an ideal and a lived experience. The diverse nature of childhood is a key theme, explored here from different research perspectives and academic traditions. A range of anthropological, developmental and sociocultural approaches are also discussed.
This volume is the first in a series of four books, written by experts in the field, which provides an introduction to childhood degree programmes and related modules. The series features international case studies, examples and readings to supplement the chapters, and is illustrated in full colour. Other books in the series are:
* Children and young people's cultural worlds
* Childhoods in context
* Local childhoods, global issues