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Michael Wyness

ISBN: 978-0-745-68947-0 January 2015 Polity 232 Pages


What is childhood? In recent years, a cluster of critical and complex ideas have emerged around the nature of biological, social and psychological growth in the early years, reflecting the changing nature of adult - child relations, and political and cultural understandings of childhood in the twenty-first century.

In this clear and concise book, Michael Wyness offers fresh insights into the current state of play within childhood studies. Drawing on work from a number of disciplines including sociology, geography and history, he discusses the contested terrain of theoretical and research advances with particular attention to the notion of children’s agency and the concept of global childhoods. Key conceptual debates are illustrated through a range of contemporary issues that affect children and adults, including inequality, child abuse, ill-health, child labour, sexualization and identity formation.

This book will appeal to students and academics within the fields of sociology, education, geography, history and childhood studies.


Chapter 1. Conceptualizing Agency

Chapter 2. The Recognition and Distribution of Children’s Agency

Chapter 3. Childhood, Globalization and Global Standards

Chapter 4. Childhoods: Diversity and Hybridity

Chapter 5. Childhood and Generation

Chapter 6. Childhood, Wellbeing and Multi-Disciplinarity

Conclusion: Relocating Children and Childhood


Focusing on children’s agency from multiple perspectives as well as globalization’s complex effects on children and childhood, Wyness provides a compelling and innovative contribution to childhood studies. The book is well written, well grounded in the relevant theoretical and substantive literature, and full of insightful and timely case studies. Wyness’s Childhood is a gem!
William A. Corsaro, Indiana University

Michael Wyness has a deep understanding of all the key issues in the sociology of childhood and this shines through this short but illuminating introduction to the topic.
Alan Prout, University of Leeds