Anthropology of Childhood

Heather Montgomery

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
Anthropology of Childhood

Show Summary Details


Children and childhood have long been studied in social and cultural anthropology and have been central to the overall development of the discipline, as well as to more specialized areas such as socialization, kinship, language, and gender. In recent years, a distinct “anthropology of childhood” has emerged, closely related to new ideas in “the sociology of childhood.” The many ethnographies that make up this subfield suggest a great diversity in definitions of, and ideas about, childhood and the different roles and expectations placed on children according to their cultural background. They also highlight the heterogeneous nature of childhood and the impact that gender, age, birth order, and ethnicity have on children’s experiences and daily lives. It is worth noting, however, that there is a difference in the ways that European and American anthropologists have approached childhood. The former have tended to focus on ethnographies of children, using children as active informants as well as analyzing indigenous notions about childhood. American anthropologists, in contrast, have linked the study of childhood to “life history theory” and drawn heavily on theories and ideas from evolutionary anthropology. This entry concentrates in particular on social and cultural anthropology, although it mentions psychology and biological and evolutionary anthropology under Life History Theory, Child Development, and Child Rearing and Socialization.

Article.  15649 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.