Transitioning between childhood and adulthood: how learners negotiate childhood and adulthood with adult caregivers at school and at home

Dare, Jade (2021-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: My aim in this study is to understand the processes of transitioning from childhood to adulthood from the point of view of Grade 10-11 learners (aged 16 and 17) attending a private school in the Western Cape. My study is influenced by the ‘New’ Sociology of Childhood, which seeks to engage with the agency of boys and girls and encourage ‘voices’ to children in the context of ‘adult-centric’ societies in which adulthood is constructed as the norm and children are viewed as ‘adults-in- the- making’ rather than as individuals in their own right (Pattman 2015). Influenced by the ‘New’ Sociology of Childhood, some writers have argued that the boundaries between childhood and adulthood are not simply determined by chronological age but rather shaped by social and institutional practices which may infantilize school goers as 'learners' and present teachers, in contrast, as adult authority figures whether as care givers or disciplinarians (see, for example, James and Prout; 1997). But schools may also be sites in which the boundaries between adulthood and childhood become blurred and open to negotiation (See Henderson et al, 2007). This thesis explores the processes of negotiating childhood and adulthood by engaging in conversational interviews with research participants. In particular I want to focus on how they position themselves in relation to adult carers at school and at home and how certain kinds of institutional practices may reinforce or unsettle boundaries between adults and children organized around understandings of authority and care. Thus, my thesis aims to rethink what it means to grow up from the point of view of young people as well as thinking of ‘growing up’ as a social construction and not as something fixed in biology.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: My doel in hierdie studie is om die prosesse van oorgang van kind na volwassene te verstaan vanuit die oogpunt van Graad 10-11 leerders (ouderdomme 16 en 17) wat leersaam is by ‘n privaat skool naby Kaapstad. My studie is beïnvloed deur die ‘‘New’ Sociology of Childhood’ wat beoog om by die onafhanklikheidsvermoeens van seuns en dogters betrokke te raak en ‘stemme’ vir kinders aan te moedig in die konteks van ‘volwasse-sentriese’ gemeenskappe waar volwassenheid as die norm gekonstrueer word en kinders in die konteks van ‘volwassene in wording’ beskou word, eerder as individue in hulle eie reg (Pattman 2015). Die invloed van ‘‘New’ Sociology of Childhood’ het sommige skrywers laat argumenteer dat die grense tussen kinderdom en volwassenheid nie eenvoudig bepaal kan word deur die chronologiese ouderdom nie maar word eerder gevorm deur sosiale en institusionele praktyke wat skoolgangers verkleuter as ‘leerders’ en in kontras, onderwysers aanbied as volwasse gesagsfigure, hetsy as versorgers of disiplineerders (sien byvoorbeeld James en Prout: 1997). Maar skole mag ook terreine wees waar die grense tussen volwassenheid en kinderdom vaag raak en oop vir onderhandeling (sien Henderson et. al, 2007). Hierdie tesis verken die prosesse van onderhandeling in kinderdom en volwassenheid deur deelname in gesprekvoerende onderhoude met navorsingsdeelnemers in besonder. Ek wil fokus op hoe hulle hulself posisioneer met verhouding tot volwasse versorgers by die skool en tuis en hoe sekere soorte institusionele praktyke die grense tussen volwassenes en kinders kan versterk of ontwrig rondom die verstandhouding van gesag en versorging. Dus het my tesis die doel om te herdink wat dit beteken om groot te word vanuit die oogpunt van jong mense asook die denke van ‘grootword’ as ‘n sosiale konstruksie en nie iets wat geets is in biologie nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/123596
This item appears in the following collections: