Voice, Participation, and Agency

Mary Kellett

in Childhood Studies

ISBN: 9780199791231
Published online March 2012 | | DOI:
Voice, Participation, and Agency


Children and young people’s participation, voice, and agency constitute an important theme in childhood studies that emerged in the 1990s and intensified in the first decade of the 21st century. Its origins lie in the surge of children’s rights that unfolded in the wake of the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Political momentum amassed behind UNCRC with legislative outcomes in many nation-states such as the Every Child Matters agenda in the United Kingdom. Acknowledging the imperative of children’s rights is only the beginning: participation, voice, and agency are the tools that make it happen. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are nuanced in different realities. More effective listening cultures led to an acceptance that children are experts on their own lives and capable of meaningful participation in matters that affect them. Voice is the right to express their views freely, including an entitlement to have these views heard. Children’s agency implies activity, a point at which their views translate into actions such as making decisions, influencing change, and providing evidence.

Article.  12351 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies

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