Step 5: Chapter 9: Repositioning Children Within Structure

At the end of Chap. 4 a definition of agency is presented. This definition highlights that morality is simply a feature of structure and agency, that an engagement with morality should therefore be seen as a necessary and regular part of our desire to understand children. The moral dimension should not be seen as a niche area of investigation, but rather as a relevant feature of any consideration of childhoods and children’s everyday lives. This final section, building on earlier themes, first seeks to acknowledge that structure is not static, but that the individual through their engagement with it can be part of establishing ‘structural’ change. It is on the basis of the child as a change agent that this chapter concludes by reflecting on some of the dominant attitudes presented in Chaps. 5, 6 and 7 and contrasting these with the images that are reflected in Chaps. 8 and 9. As a result, this final chapter presents alternative images which reflect ways of thinking about the child that challenge the dominant discourses that have for too long informed how we have approached children and morality.

My hope is that this book moves beyond a discourse that is dominated by the voice of ‘adults’ and, rather than children being ‘specimens’, offers a framework through which they can be seen as active partners in a shared discourse on morality. This framework not only adds to the way in which we are able to make sense of childhoods, but it also extends our capacity to understand agency and therefore to make sense of children’s interactions within the different settings of their everyday lives.

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