1 The Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University2 Subject, Technology and Social Practice, Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University
The purpose of the CHACDOC section is among other things to create a forum for uniting developmental psychology and childhood research. This raises the question: How can studies of children anchored in historical time and settings contribute to discussions of what development is about? In this paper it will be argued that we may discuss the question in a concrete way related to particular societal practices as well as children’s personal engagements, perspectives and ways of taking part in activities of their everyday life. The empirical background for the paper is different research projects observing and interviewing children in their different developmental settings as their family, kindergartens, schools, institutions for children’s leisure time and special help arrangements. In the observations the children seem deeply occupied with the common aspects of organising a child life across different life contexts, contradictory demands and social conflicts. One point in the paper will be to illustrate that they are doing this together. Children’s developmental contexts are societal and historical structured and in the same time the children themselves are involved in organising, negotiating and contributing to different activities of their life. Following children in their everyday life across contexts has highlighted a theme about how children ‘arrange’ their social communities and their personal participation in varying and shifting activities. In this way the paper will emphasize the active efforts of the children themselves in relation to the question of development. The everyday life of children in Nordic countries constitute a situation were children live a great part of their life together with children of the same age and across societal institutions were professionals have different kinds of responsibility, tasks and perspectives on the children and their development. The children cooperate with each other and they also have conflicts about belonging in their different communities and influencing their common activities. They are in one and the same time assembled in institution communities (as for instance a school class) and continuously differentiated into different kinds of categories (as for instance the good pupils, the ones who receive special help, the ones who do not know how to behave etc). In relation to general concepts about the development of children we confront the challenge to analyse how children deal with these conditions of their life – to analyse ‘the practice of the children’. And in relation to that we are in need of knowledge about how schools and institutions are experienced from the positions of children. In this way questions of the children’s perspectives seems closely connected to analysis of the social practices where children are taking part.