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Children as Potential: A Window to Cultural Ideals, Anxieties and Conflicts

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Drawing on sociologist Norbert Elias’ theory of civilising processes, this article argues for a perspective on children as ‘potential’. With this notion we focus on the efforts, hopes and fears that adult society invest in children and through them in future society. Seeing this as a result of historical processes and social dynamics, we hold that such a perspective provide us with a window to deep-felt ideals and anxieties in society, the norms of civilised society that are established as well as the ongoing struggles about these norms. In this way, studying investments in children are particularly significant for social science. Yet, we also contend that children themselves should take up a more prominent place in societal studies. As cultural norms have to pass through the transformative world of childhood to be reproduced, children actively affect the outcome of the civilising projects and the processes of continuity and change.
TidsskriftChildren's Geographies
Sider (fra-til)311-323
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - maj 2022


  • Børnekultur, Dannelse/demokrati/værdier

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