Childhood, Complexity Orientation and Children's Rights: enlarging the space of the possible?



I'Anson J (2011) Childhood, Complexity Orientation and Children's Rights: enlarging the space of the possible?. Education Inquiry, 2 (3), pp. 373-384.

This paper begins by considering some of the performative dilemmas associated with the enactment of children's rights by adults. In particular, it is argued that the mobilisation of children's rights often tends to involve multiple forms of complexity reduction (Osberg and Biesta, 2010), the net effect of which is to limit children's expressive powers and attenuate rights-based approaches. A focus of this paper is the specific understanding of childhood that necessarily accompanies any appeal to rights as specifically an appeal to children's rights, as distinct from, for example, adults' rights, or rights as such. In other words, some image of childhood will necessarily and variously haunt, and inform, mobilisations of children's rights discourse by adults. Three scenarios, drawn from a recently completed research project, Moving Image Literacies, are used to think through some of the material, relational and spatial effects of different mobilisations of childhood. The paper argues that it is necessary to attend to both the orientation to complexity that informs a given approach, together with the characterisation of childhood that is mobilised, if spaces are to be created that enlarge the space of the possible.

childhood; children’s rights; complexity; digital technologies

Education Inquiry: Volume 2, Issue 3

Publication date30/09/2011
PublisherCo-Action Publishing

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Dr John I'Anson

Dr John I'Anson

Senior Lecturer, Education