Reconceptualising Children's Agency as Continuum and Interdependence. SI on Childhood and Society.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionSocial Sciences. 2019, 8 (3), 1-26. 10.3390/socsci8030081
Although the idea that children are social actors is well-recognised within childhood studies, the structural contexts shaping child agency and the everyday practices that manifest in children’s social relationships with other generations are not fully elucidated. This article identifies and discusses multiple and often contradictory concepts of agency as well as a framework for re-conceptualizing it as a continuum, and as interdependent. The central argument I make is that there is a need to go beyond the recognition that children are social actors to reveal the contexts and relational processes within which their everyday agency unfolds. It is also vital to ask what kind of agency children have, how they come by and exercise it, and how their agency relates them to their families, communities, and others. The article draws on research and ongoing debates on the life worlds of children in diverse African contexts in order to critically demonstrate how their agency is intersected by experience, societal expectations, gender, geography, stage of childhood, and social maturity. In so doing, the contextualized discussions and reflections have implications to rethink childhood and child agency elsewhere.