Understanding Children’s Participation through an Eliasian lens: Habitus as a barrier to children's everyday participation rights

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Abstract

In this article, we will present our research findings and argue that whilst a focus on the rights of young children to participate has helped to influence the development of participatory approaches in a range of children’s settings, aimed at enabling their opinions to not only be heard but be acted upon, this does not seem have spread into areas of children's everyday life. Thus, in their everyday life interactions children’s rights continue to be denied or given entitlement in the basis of assumptions about the social category to which they belong. Furthermore opportunities continue to be missed to make links between the everyday and the societal, political and legal contexts by those wishing to further children's participation rights. This has implications for children's developing citizenship and their ability to participate in wider society. Drawing on the sociology of Norbert Elias, we will argue that some of the barriers to children’s participation in and control over their everyday lives are attributable to their positioning as ‘children’ in opposition to ‘adults’ and the concomitant assumptions about their capacities, or lack thereof. These assumptions are evident in a variety of formal discourses underpinned by developmentalism and protectionism, including law and policy, but they are also internalised and perpetuated in what Elias called the ‘habitus’; unconscious and embodied behaviours and dispositions that have been shaped by wider social structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-467
JournalInternational Journal of Children's Rights
Volume26
Issue number3
Early online date31 Aug 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Aug 2018

Keywords

  • everyday participation
  • habitus
  • Elias
  • children's rights

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    SALLY HESTER

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