in: Leira, Arnlaug and Chiara Saraceno (eds), Childhood: Changing Contexts, Comparative Social Research, Volume 25, Emerald, Bingley
Children – their number, their welfare, their property (whom they belong to), their education – have long been a matter of public concern. What a “proper” childhood should be is always a highly politicized issue never left entirely in private hands. Modern societies in particular have rendered explicit and institutionalized the existence of a public interest in children and in childhood as constituted within, but also outside, families. In this volume, we use the expression “politicizing of childhood” in a broad sense in reference to the ways in which childhood is conceptualized not only as a primary family or parental responsibility, but, in addition, as a matter of public importance and concern, something for (welfare) state intervention. “Politicizing of childhood” encompasses the public motivation and mobilization for childhood change; the political processes in which policies are formulated, legislated and enacted; the response to policy interventions that may in turn feed back into public and political discourse, policy formulation and so on (see Ellingsæter & Leira, 2006, p. 4). The contributions in this volume illustrate one or more of these processes.