Archive for April 4th, 2012
The punitive turn of penal policy in the United States after the came of the Civil Rights movement responds not to rising criminal insecurity but to the social insecurity spawned by the fragmentation of wage labor and the shakeup of the ethnoracial hierarchy. It partakes of a broader reconstruction of the state wedding restrictive “workfare” and expansive “prisonfare” under a philosophy of moral behaviorism. This paternalist program of penalization of poverty aims to curb the urban disorders wrought by economic deregulation and to impose precarious employment on the postindustrial proletariat. It also erects a garish theater of civic morality on whose stage political elites can orchestrate the public vituperation of deviant figures—the teenage “welfare mother,” the ghetto “street thug,” and the roaming “sex predator”—and close the legitimacy deficit they suffer when they discard the established government mission of social and economic protection. By bringing developments in welfare and criminal justice into a single analytic framework attentive to both the instrumental and communicative moments of public policy, Punishing the Poor shows that the prison is not a mere technical implement for law enforcement but a core political institution. And it reveals that the capitalist revolution from above called neoliberalism entails not the advent of “small government” but the building of an overgrown and intrusive penal state deeply injurious to the ideals of democratic citizenship.
Children and youth under 18 have made significant strides in recent years toward fuller inclusion in democratic processes. These strides, however, rarely rise to the level of direct political representation, whether in changing policies, making laws, or voting. This article argues that democracies will be able to represent children only by transforming what is meant by democratic representation in the first place. It shows why democratic theory has traditionally excluded children, how representation is more than just participation or citizenship, and how current children’s political movements provide lessons for a more expansive politics of direct representation regardless of age.
Are we failing in our combined research endeavours to get at the core questions facing children and young people today? What can we expect to do, and how? Recent global events seem to suggest that we should be paying increasing attention to questions of politics and economics and how they affect children and young people, but how are we ever to shift the dominant paradigms of childhood and youth in political economy terms? Are our combined endeavours in the study of children likely to have an effect? What is a sociologist of childhood to say about all of this?
The implications for children of inequality, the increasing marketization of all aspects of social life (including matters previously dealt with by the state, such as formal education and health), the payment of welfare benefits conditional on parents’ and children’s behaviour and the increasingly punitive approaches to people who do not fit the supposed ideal type of child/young person, which lead to incarceration and further social exclusion – all these are questions of global relevance that economists, political philosophers and sociologists could usefully join forces to explore.
The sociology of the family examines the family as an institution and a unit of socialization. This unit of socialization is identified through various sociological perspectives; particularly with regards to the relationship between the nuclear family and industrial capitalism, and the different gender roles and concepts of childhood which arose with it.
Sociology of childhood is organized around two central discussions: The child as a social actor: This approach derives from youth sociology as well as ethnography. Focusing on everyday life and the ways children orientate themselves in society, it engages with the cultural performances and the social worlds they construct and take part in. The generational order: The second approach centers on socio-structural and socio-theoretical questions concerning social equality and social order in a society, which categorizes their members by age and segregates them in many respects (rights, deeds, economical participation, ascribed needs etc.). These issues can be summarized under the overall concept of the generational order.
The early years of a child’s life present a unique opportunity to foster healthy development, and research has underscored the importance of the first five years of life – both positive and negative experiences – in shaping children’s cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional development. This brief reading list outlines the risks faced by young children with social, emotional, and behavioral problems, as well as barriers to eligibility, access to services, and service utilization. The authors conclude by recommending policy improvements needed by young children and their families.
Most of Children in Poverty have parents who work, but low wages and unstable employment leave their families struggling to make ends meet. Poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Poverty also can contribute to poor health and mental health. Risks are greatest for children who experience poverty when they are young and/or experience deep and persistent poverty.
Research is clear that poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s well-being. But effective public policies – to make work pay for low-income parents and to provide high-quality early care and learning experiences for their children – can make a difference. Investments in the most vulnerable children are also critical.