Varieties of Childhood

  • Jens Qvortrup


Representations of children cover a wide range — from their non-existence to demands for their complete separation from adults. A few years ago an article in the New York Times Magazine (see Belkin, 2000) reported a new movement in the US, campaigning for ‘child-free zones’. The main argument among its adherents was that childless adults had a right not to be bothered or pestered by other people’s children. They felt emphatically that children were impermissibly and unacceptably visible — indeed, they had no larger wish than to make children disappear from their compass. In their view, children are a private matter; they should not disturb other people, and it should remain a parental obligation to keep children away from the public space, which apparently is regarded as an adult domain and prerogative. Advocates of child-free zones thus perceive children as a private good that is definitely none of their business; the idea of children as a public good hardly comes to mind. For them children should neither be seen nor heard, and should enter the societal arena only when they have matured. For them, children’s intrusion into public arenas is thought of in terms of a ‘status offence’. Among adults, they belong to ‘free-riders’ as far as responsibility for children or childhood is concerned.


Welfare State Unpaid Work York Time Magazine Adult World Generalize Reciprocity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aries, Ph. (1962) Centuries of Childhood. A Social History of Family Life, New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  2. Belkin, Lisa (2000) ‘Your Kids Are Their Problem’, New York Times Magazine, July 23, 30ff.Google Scholar
  3. Bendix, R. (1977) Nation-building and Citizenship: Studies of our Changing Social Order, Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Brunner, O. (1980) Vom “ganzen Haus” zur “Familie”’, in H. Rosenbaum (ed.), Seminar: Familie und Gesellschaftsstruktur, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, pp. 83–91.Google Scholar
  5. Davis, K. (1940) ‘The Child and the Social Structure’, Journal of Educational Sociology, 14 (4): 217–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. deMause, L. (1974) ‘The Evolution of Childhood’, in The History of Childhood, New York: Psychohistory Press, pp. 1–73.Google Scholar
  7. Esping-Andersen, G. with D. Gallie, A. Hemerijck and J. Myles (2002) Why We Need a New Welfare State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. James, A., C. Jenks and A. Prout (1998) Theorizing Childhood, London: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Kaufmann, F.-X. (1996) Modernisierungsschübe, Familie und Sozialstaat, München: Oldenbourg Verlag.Google Scholar
  10. Key, Ellen (1909) The Century of the Child, New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.Google Scholar
  11. Hillman, M., J. Adams and J. Whitelegg (1990) One False Move … a Study of Children’s Independent Mobility, London: Policy Studies Institute.Google Scholar
  12. Mayall, Berry (2002) Towards a Sociology for Childhood, Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  13. O’Brien, M., D. Jones, D. Sloan and M. Rustin (2000) ‘Children’s Independent Spatial Mobility in the Urban Realm’, Childhood, 7 (3): 257–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. O’Neill, J. (1994) The Missing Child in Liberal Theory, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  15. Parsons, Talcot (1964) The Social System, New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  16. Popper, K.R. (1966) The Open Society and its Enemies, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  17. Qvortrup, J. (2001) ‘school-work, Paid Work and the Changing Obligations of Childhood’, in Ph. Mizen, C. Pole and A. Bolton (eds), Hidden Hands: International Perspectives on Children’s Work and Labour, London: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 91–107.Google Scholar
  18. Qvortrup, J. (2003) ‘Kindheit im marktwirtschaftlich organisierten Wohlfahrtstaat’, in R. Kränzl-Nagl, J. Mierendorf and Th. Olk (eds), Kindheit im Wohlfahrtstaat. Gesellschaftliche und politische Herausforderungen, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus Verlag, pp. 95–120.Google Scholar
  19. Thorne, Barrie (1987) ‘Re-visioning Women and Social Change: Where are the Children?’, Gender and Society, 1 (1): 85–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. UNICEF (2003) A League Table of Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations, Innocenti Report Cards, 5, Florence: Innocenti Research Centre.Google Scholar
  21. Zelizer, V.A. (1985) Pricing the Priceless Child. The Changing Social Value of Children, New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jens Qvortrup 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Qvortrup

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations