21st Sociology of Health & Illness Monograph Call for Abstracts

Children’s Health and Wellbeing: policy debates and lived experience


Editors: Geraldine Brady, Pam Lowe and Sonja Olin Lauritzen

The 21st Sociology of Health and Illness monograph will bring together recent theoretical and methodological developments in the sociology of childhood with research findings on child health and wellbeing; locating the perspective and lived experience of children at the centre of knowledge production. Children’s health and illness are shaped by perceptions of childhood which can overlook their agency as social actors; such perceptions are often reproduced in health and medical practice. These dominant ideas can be challenged by a more profound understanding of children’s experiential knowledge. The physical and mental wellbeing of children is shaped by both the mediations of adults and children’s active contributions. Further, a focus on childhood health is an appropriate lens through which to appreciate that children uniquely experience their childhood whilst being part of the structural category of a generation. The monograph will address three cross-cutting themes:

  • Situating children within health policy sets out the significance and pervasive influence of policy in shaping understandings of the lives of children and their families. This theme will highlight the ways in which deviance from a perceived ‘norm’ becomes a matter for concern and intervention where dominant ideas have become uncritically accepted, eliciting various policy and practice responses.
  • Practices of children’s health and wellbeing focuses on health policy in action through exploring interaction between a range of professionals, parents and children. Parents and professionals are encouraged to play a major role in monitoring and identifying development and behaviour that appears to be outside of the norm and requires formal assessment and intervention. This theme will explore experiences of surveillance and monitoring of children’s minds and bodies looking at ways in which they are increasingly constructed as ‘at risk’, albeit in diverse ways.
  • Children as health actors highlights children’s voices, with a specific focus on the ‘lived experience’ of health or illness. We are interested particularly in children’s experiences of ‘contested’ conditions or health practices. Children’s active participation in the management of their bodies and minds through healthcare encounters will be laid bare through the inclusion of instances of negotiation, resistance and re-framing.

Taken together the themes will offer examples of differing contexts and will encourage critical reflection on current and culturally specific ways of knowing and understanding children’s health. We welcome cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contributions as well as international work on the ways in which relations between generations, lay/professional encounters, contexts such as school, home, medical and welfare institutions shape and structure the lived experience of children’s health.

The monograph will appear both as a regular issue of the journal in February 2015 and in book form. Potential contributors should send an abstract of up to 600 words to g.brady@coventry.ac.uk by 31st January 2013. Informal email enquiries prior to submission are welcome, as are suggestions for shorter contributions that might, with the assistance of the editors, be paired into more innovative submissions. Name and institutional affiliation of author(s) should also be supplied, including full contact details.

Proposals will be reviewed and potential authors notified by 31 March 2013. Short-listed authors will be invited to submit their work by 31 July 2013. Submissions will be refereed in the usual way and should follow the journal’s style guidelines (http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/shil_enhanced/submit.asp).

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