Children, social class and social practices: a theoretical analysis of children's practices of class distinction

Tobia Fattore, Susann Fegter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In this paper we reconstruct children's practices of class distinction to explore how poverty can be understood in relational class terms and through subjective class practices. The purpose of this paper is to provide a set of theoretical considerations regarding children as classed subjects. Drawing on three multi-stage, multi-method qualitative studies previously undertaken by the authors, which explored what children define as important to their well-being and what constitutes a good life, we analyse how children position themselves as moral agents within class relevant dynamics. We suggest that, instead of focusing on fixed categories such as social exclusion/inclusion or poverty, it is useful to utilize a theory that emphasizes class as a form of subjectivity and social practices, in which the definition of and contest over socially valued resources is at stake. We argue that these practices, because they are about what is socially valued while structurally configured, occurs at the level of everyday practices, including through emotional expressions. However, we also consider the problem of how theoretical categorisations, such as class, risk reifying social categories and identities. We explore how our framework can usefully contribute to understanding poverty by discussing four empirical themes reconstructed from studies undertaken by the authors: children's responses to poverty; the normative understanding of children who earn their own money; experiences of shame and expressions of disgust in the context of an urban and socially heterogeneous locality. Each of these themes reveals different but related aspects of the contest over socially valued resources.

LanguageEnglish
Pages67-75
Number of pages9
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Volume97
Early online date20 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

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Social Class
social class
Poverty
poverty
Shame
Social Identification
shame
resources
qualitative method
subjectivity
money
exclusion
well-being
inclusion
experience

Cite this

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title = "Children, social class and social practices: a theoretical analysis of children's practices of class distinction",
abstract = "In this paper we reconstruct children's practices of class distinction to explore how poverty can be understood in relational class terms and through subjective class practices. The purpose of this paper is to provide a set of theoretical considerations regarding children as classed subjects. Drawing on three multi-stage, multi-method qualitative studies previously undertaken by the authors, which explored what children define as important to their well-being and what constitutes a good life, we analyse how children position themselves as moral agents within class relevant dynamics. We suggest that, instead of focusing on fixed categories such as social exclusion/inclusion or poverty, it is useful to utilize a theory that emphasizes class as a form of subjectivity and social practices, in which the definition of and contest over socially valued resources is at stake. We argue that these practices, because they are about what is socially valued while structurally configured, occurs at the level of everyday practices, including through emotional expressions. However, we also consider the problem of how theoretical categorisations, such as class, risk reifying social categories and identities. We explore how our framework can usefully contribute to understanding poverty by discussing four empirical themes reconstructed from studies undertaken by the authors: children's responses to poverty; the normative understanding of children who earn their own money; experiences of shame and expressions of disgust in the context of an urban and socially heterogeneous locality. Each of these themes reveals different but related aspects of the contest over socially valued resources.",
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Children, social class and social practices : a theoretical analysis of children's practices of class distinction. / Fattore, Tobia; Fegter, Susann.

In: Children and Youth Services Review, Vol. 97, 02.2019, p. 67-75.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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