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Varieties of Childhood

  • Jens Qvortrup

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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.

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Copyright information

© Jens Qvortrup 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jens Qvortrup

There are no affiliations available

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