Children's conceptions of otherness: constructions of the 'moral self' and implications for experiences of migration

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This chapter examines processes of identification and categorization that non-migrant children adopt to understand ‘the other’. It does so by examining what children identify as being important to being a ‘good person’, that is their understanding of what constitutes the moral self. We examine these understandings to determine to what extent practices seen as necessary of citizens in ‘multicultural’ or ‘cosmopolitan’ societies – such as mediating difference, an openness to dialogue, of a reflexive attitude regarding one’s own values – are also evident in children’s discussions of being a good person. Three themes emerge from the analysis: the normality of difference and the importance of the personal as moral; defending those who are different as a practice of justice; and the categorization of children as strange where other children exhibit different life practices from themselves. By examining the identity work of children who are not of a migration background, we explore implications for how recognition claims by children from migrant backgrounds might be received.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChildhood, youth and migration
Subtitle of host publicationconnecting global and local perspectives
EditorsChristine Hunner-Kreisel, Sabine Bohne
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9783319311098
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameChildren's Well-Being: Indicators and Research
ISSN (Print)1879-5196
ISSN (Electronic)1879-520X


  • childhood
  • identity-formation
  • migration
  • multiculturalism


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