SOC08013 2017 Sociology of Childhood and Family -JMP

General Details

Full Title
Sociology of Childhood and Family -JMP
Transcript Title
Sociology of child and family
100 %
Subject Area
SOC - Sociology
SOCS - Social Sciences
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2017 - Full Academic Year 2017-18
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
majella mulkeen
Programme Membership
SG_HJOIN_H08 201700 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Majors: Sociology and Politics SG_HJOIN_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Majors: Sociology and Politics SG_HJOIN_H08 202100 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Humanities in Joint Majors: Sociology and Politics

The aim of this module is to undertake a sociological analysis of 'childhood' and 'family' so as to highlight the contingent nature of seemingly ‘natural’ phenomenon. Children and childhood are relatively recent concerns in the discipline of sociology resulting in a burgeoning of studies of how childrens lives are constituted by structural forces and a corresponding growth in studies examining childrens agency. This development is paralleled by cultural shifts in the recognition of children as a social group with sometimes separate interests to those of adults and a claim on rights as articulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The module places children’s experiences and views as central to the analysis. Studies of the family have always featured in sociology and there is a growing interest in how people 'perform' family in the twenty-first century. We will examine some of these new directions in sociology.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Understand developments in the sociology of childhood with particular reference to the central tenets of the social construction approach to the study of childhood and critiques of this approach.


Examine how structural forces constitute childhood by exploring historical accounts of how childhood is shaped by economic, political and cultural forces, with reference to studies of childhood in Ireland and England.


Assess structure and agency as central tenets in sociology and how the tensions between these are manifest in studies of children's lives and family lives.


Identify a range of research sources and policy instruments which highlight the voice of the child and give visibility to children's agency and their perspectives on their lives.


Critically assess a range of sociological approaches to analysis of the family including functionalist, feminist, Marxist and symbolic interactionism.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

There will be lectures and tutorial discussions which will focus on participation by students so as to develop a critical perspective on childhood and family.

Learning will be based on attendance at lectures, independent research and discussion in tutorial and online groups in light of studies in sociology to date.

Module Assessment Strategies

Assessment requires students to demonstrate an in-depth advanced understanding of sociological perspectives on childhood and the family.  As such it will focus on research skills, presentation skills and the capacity to bring an analytic focus to learning. Students will undertake two pieces of assessment: a debate on the tensions between structure and agency in childrens lives(40%) and a group research project in a field of interest pertaining to family or childhood (60%).

Repeat Assessments

An individual research project on a field of interest in sociology of child and family.

Indicative Syllabus

Sociology and childhood: outline of sociological approaches- socialisation theory and the 'new' sociology of childhood

Social construction approaches to the study of childhood: discourses of childhood in western societies/implications for childrens lives, historical and cultural variations in the experience of childhood, using Irish and English case studies.

Structure and Agency in childrens lives: revisiting core concepts and applying these to the study of childrens lived experience

Participation discourses in the UNCRC as an example of agency.

Gender discourses and the shaping of childrens lives

Poverty and social class as structural forces in childrens lives

Researching childrens lives: ethical considerations and case study examples

Family change in contemporary society: sociological approaches to diverse family forms

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Debate Continuous Assessment Oral Exam 40 % Week 6 2,3,4
2 Final module exam Project Group Project 60 % Week 13 1,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Lecture Lecture Theatre Teaching and Learning 2 Weekly 2.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 2.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Recommended Reading
2016 Sociology of Children Childhood and Generation SAGE

Illustrates sociology's distinctive contribution to childhood studies

Recommended Reading
2008 Key concepts in Childhood Studies SAGE London

Short chapter descriptions of key concepts

Recommended Reading
2003 Understanding Childhood: An interdisciplinary approach. Wiley

Older publication but excellent coverage of social construction approach to study of chilhood

Recommended Reading
2009 ongoing In Growing up in Ireland National Longitudinal study of Children. Dept Children :-:- Youth Affairs

First of its kind, a series of longitudinal studies of children in Ireland

Recommended Reading
2011 Listen to Our Voices hearing children and young people living in the care of the state DCYA Irel

First consultation with children in care of the state reflecting commitment that their vocies are heard

Recommended Reading
2011 Getting under their skins? Accessing young children perspectives through ethnographic fieldwork Childhood Vol 18 (39)

Example of research approaches to study of childrens everyday lives

Recommended Reading
2014 Key thinkers in Childhood Studies Policy Press UK

Interviews with researchers and thinkers in early childhood

Recommended Reading
2005 ). Researching Childrens Experiences: Approaches and Methods. SAGE London

Recommended Reading
2010 Childrens Perspectives on Parenting Styles and Discipline: A Developmental Approach. DCYA Irel

Insightful study of children's persepctives on parenting etc

Recommended Reading
2010 Poverty and the Life Cycle in 20th Century Ireland: Changing Experiences of Childhood, Education and the Transition to Adulthood. NUIM/Combat Poverty Agency

Interesting historical account of poverty and education covering three eras

Recommended Reading
2011 The global and the local: mapping changes in Irish childhood. Eire/Ireland Vol 46(3:-:-4) Winter pp 63-83

Module Resources