A Review of Childhood


In Childhood, Chris Jenks stabs at the heart of sociology’s obsession with the myth of childhood. In his concise, if inaccessible, analysis of why and how sociologists, psychologists, and educators conceive of children, Jenks encourages a critical examination of the assumptions behind many institutions.

Its a short book – only 145 pages long – but has more content in it than most other books about children and youth. Jenks starts by breaking down the reality that childhood is not a natural thing; instead, its a social construct. From that point, he sets about identifying how children are seen and treated throughout society; what’s problematic about that; how those perspectives disservice both children and scholars; and where they play out most commonly.

Without sentimentalizing kids, Jenks explains exactly why and how child abuse exists, and how much families, schools and other institutions are culpable for its existence. He also talks around adultism, which I found tantalizing and even enlightening. He finishes the book with an essential analysis of childhood today, and reveals an argument about whether or not its going away today.

This book provides necessary support for conversations about youth rights, civic engagement, and the roles of young people throughout society. It is a powerful tool for the determined popular reader, and an introductory lever for the academic.


Book Details

  • Title: Childhood
  • Author: Chris Jenks
  • Publisher: Routledge


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