Which children? Whose views? Intersectional Childhoods and Inequalities

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and University of Strathclyde, together with the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People,  have recently concluded a seminar series on ‘Children’s Rights, Social Justice and Social Identities in Scotland: Intersections in Research, Policy and Practice’, funded by the  Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

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The concept of ‘intersectionality’ has become increasingly popular within and beyond academia, whether in debates about feminism or in relation to the multiple forms of discrimination faced by particular social groups.

In short, intersectionality is about understanding the different and unequal social and economic outcomes for particular groups based on interactions between race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, age and ethnicity. This means to recognise the diversity within seemingly ‘homogenous’ groups (such as ‘women’ or ‘children’), and to draw attention to how the actions of social movements and policy makers often minimize the importance of differences within and between such groups.

Its growing popularity has led to intersectionality being described as a ‘buzzword’ (Davis, 2008), yet there is little discussion about the place of children and young people in such debates. This group may share particular characteristics and forms of discrimination because of their age, but is at the same time very diverse in terms of gender, sexuality, ethnic, class and cultural backgrounds.

It was therefore the aim of our seminar series to explore the theoretical and methodological gap in our understandings of how to use intersectionality to understand children’s social identities and multiple inequalities. Together with children, practitioners, policy makers and researchers we discussed possibilities of using intersectionality as a resource for understanding our work and everyday lives.

These are some key questions that arose in terms of how to apply intersectionality in our work.

  • Which ‘children’ count in the mainstream practices and campaigns in the children’s rights field? Which children are left out and why?
  • How do the dynamics of race/class/gender/sexuality/disability shape children’s lives?
  • How do these dynamics serve as resources for children?
  • What kinds of alliances need to be built across different groups to effectively address children’s intersectional inequalities?

For more information, please look up our final briefing. Speakers’ presentations, video and audio podcasts can be found on our website. Stay tuned for debates about intersectionality and children’s rights by following us on Twitter (@Children_SUII) or subscribing to our mailing list.

 

DAVIS, K. 2008. Intersectionality as buzzword: A sociology of science perspective on what makes a feminist theory successful. Feminist Theory, 9, 67-85.

 

Author: scotinsight

The Scottish Universities Insight Institute supports programmes of knowledge exchange which address and provide insight on substantial issues that face Scotland and the wider world. Our programmes break down disciplinary and organisational barriers in bringing together academics from different backgrounds, policymakers and practitioners. We mobilise existing knowledge in fresh ways through sustained and collaborative focus on a shared issue and aim to support decision makers in all sectors of society in being better informed. Our partner universities are: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Heriot Watt, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, and Associate Member Glasgow School of Art.

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