Examines the conditions under which motives to achieve are fostered in children. The papers included in this volume reflect the major traditions of research in the field and bring together a set of studies for achieving a better understanding of the ways in which achievement-related personality characteristics develop and function in evaluative or competitive situations.
Adult Supervision Required considers the contradictory ways in which contemporary American culture has imagined individual autonomy for parents and children. In many ways, today’s parents and children have more freedom than ever before. There is widespread respect for children’s autonomy as distinct individuals, and a broad range of parenting styles are flourishing. Yet it may also be fair to say that there is an unprecedented fear of children’s and parents’ freedom. Dread about Amber Alerts and “stranger danger” have put an end to the unsupervised outdoor play enjoyed by earlier generations of suburban kids. Similarly, fear of bad parenting has not only given rise to a cottage industry of advice books for anxious parents, but has also granted state agencies greater power to police the family.
Using popular parenting advice literature as a springboard for a broader sociological analysis of the American family, Markella B. Rutherford explores how our increasingly psychological conception of the family might be jeopardizing our appreciation for parents’ and children’s public lives and civil liberties.
In a hard driving society like the United States, holidays are islands of softness. Holidays are times for creating memories and for celebrating cultural values, emotions, and social ties. All Together Now considers holidays that are celebrated by American families: Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Halloween, and the December holidays of Christmas or Chanukah. This book shows how entire families bond at holidays, in ways that allow both children and adults to be influential within their shared interaction.
The decorations, songs, special ways of dressing, and rituals carry deep significance that is viscerally felt by even young tots. Ritual has the capacity to condense a plethora of meaning into a unified metaphor such as a Christmas tree, a menorah, or the American flag. These symbols allow children and adults to co-opt the meaning of symbols in flexible and age-relevant ways, all while the symbols are still treasured and shared in common.
From the time that the infant colonies broke away from the parent country to the present day, narratives of U.S. national identity are persistently configured in the language of childhood and family. In The American Child: A Cultural Studies Reader, contributors address matters of race, gender, and family to chart the ways that representations of the child typify historical periods and conflicting ideas. They build on the recent critical renaissance in childhood studies by bringing to their essays a wide range of critical practices and methodologies.
Although the volume is grounded heavily in the literary, it draws on other disciplines, revealing that representations of children and childhood are not isolated artifacts but cultural productions that in turn affect the social climates around them. Essayists look at games, pets, adolescent sexuality, death, family relations, and key texts such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the movie Pocahontas; they reveal the ways in which the figure of the child operates as a rich vehicle for writers to consider evolving ideas of nation and the diverse role of citizens within it.
What is happening to American youth today? There is a mountain of statistics gathered about our children, but it is often hard to know what the numbers mean. Dona Schneider argues that "sound- bite statistics" on teenage pregnancy or child abuse can mislead us and create bad public policy. But a closer look at those same statistics can give us a window on tomorrow's public health and social problems.
To show how the statistics can both disguise and highlight problems, Schneider alternates a discussion of the numbers with vivid encounters with individual children and adults: the middle-class black high school student's offhand explanation about how to get a gun; a vital statistics bureau worker's astonishment at his own classification as Hispanic; a young woman's pleasure in holding down a job after teachers dismissed her as learning disabled; and a latchkey child's nightmare of coming home from school to an empty house when she was sick.
This book guides us through the morass of numbers bandied about to describe the state of America's children—what the numbers tell us and what they don't—and it offers a call for action. Comprehensive in its treatment of all groups of children and accessible in style, this book is essential for anyone concerned about children in American society.
American Girls and Global Responsibility brings together insights from Cold War culture studies, girls’ studies, and the history of gender and militarization to shed new light on how age and gender work together to form categories of citizenship.
Jennifer Helgren argues that a new internationalist girl citizenship took root in the country in the years following World War II in youth organizations such as Camp Fire Girls, Girl Scouts, YWCA Y-Teens, schools, and even magazines like Seventeen. She shows the particular ways that girls’ identities and roles were configured, and reveals the links between internationalist youth culture, mainstream U.S. educational goals, and the U.S. government in creating and marketing that internationalist girl, thus shaping the girls’ sense of responsibilities as citizens.
America's Children offers a valuable overview of the dramatic transformations in American childhood over the past fifty years, a period of historic shifts that reduced the human and material resources available to our children. Alarmingly, one fifth of all U.S. children now grow up in poverty, many are without health insurance, and about 30 percent never graduate from high school. Despite such conditions, economic, family, and educational programs for children earn low national priority and must depend on inconsistent state and local management. Drawing upon both historical and recent data, including census information from 1940 to 1980, Donald J. Hernandez provides a vivid portrait of children in America and puts forth a forceful case for overhauling our national child welfare policies. Hernandez shows how important revolutions in household composition and income, parental education and employment, childcare, and levels of poverty have affected children's well-being. As working wives and single mothers increasingly replace the traditional homemaker, children spend greater portions of time in educational and daycare facilities outside the home, and those with single mothers stand the greatest chance of being welfare dependent. Wider changes in society have created even greater stress for children in certain groups as they age: out-of-wedlock births are on the rise for white teenagers, half of all Hispanic youths never graduate high school, and violence accounts for nearly 90 per cent of all black teenage deaths. America's Children explores the interaction of many trends in children's lives and the fundamental social, demographic, and economic processes that lie at their core. The book concludes with a thoughtful analysis of the ability of families and government to provide for a new age of children, with emphasis on reducing racial inequities and providing greater public support for families, comparable to the family policies of other developed countries. As the traditional "Ozzie and Harriet" family recedes into collective memory, the importance of creating strong national policies for children is amplified, particularly in the areas of financial assistance, health insurance, education, and daycare. America's Children provides a compelling guide for reassessing the forces that shape our children and the resources available to safeguard their future. "In this conceptually creative, methodologically rigorous, and empirically rich book, Hernandez uses census and survey data to describe several quite profound changes that have characterized the life courses of America's children and their families over the last 50 to 150 years....this erudite book is destined to be a classic." —Richard M. Lerner, Contemporary Psychology "America's Children goes a long way toward informing the debate on the causes of increasing poverty, and it challenges some widely held misperceptions....its study of resources available to children (and their families) lays a valuable foundation for surveying trends in family structure, education, and income sources....Anyone interested in the changing lives of children should read it; anyone interested in understanding the causes and patterns of poverty, and in designing a better welfare system, must read it." —Ellen B. Magenheim, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Census Series
Children have served as soldiers throughout history. They fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and in both world wars. They served as uniformed soldiers, camouflaged insurgents, and even suicide bombers. Indeed, the first U.S. soldier to be killed by hostile fire in the Afghanistan war was shot in ambush by a fourteen-year-old boy.
Does this mean that child soldiers are aggressors? Or are they victims? It is a difficult question with no obvious answer, yet in recent years the acceptable answer among humanitarian organizations and contemporary scholars has been resoundingly the latter. These children are most often seen as especially hideous examples of adult criminal exploitation.
In this provocative book, David M. Rosen argues that this response vastly oversimplifies the child soldier problem. Drawing on three dramatic examples-from Sierra Leone, Palestine, and Eastern Europe during the Holocaust-Rosen vividly illustrates this controversial view. In each case, he shows that children are not always passive victims, but often make the rational decision that not fighting is worse than fighting.
With a critical eye to international law, Armies of the Young urges readers to reconsider the situation of child combatants in light of circumstance and history before adopting uninformed child protectionist views. In the process, Rosen paints a memorable and unsettling picture of the role of children in international conflicts.
In the United States, rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbirth are climbing so dramatically that over half of the next generation is likely to spend part of its childhood in single-mother families. As many as half of these families will live in poverty, caused in large measure by the failure of current government regulations to secure adequate child support from absent parents and to assure minimum support when parents cannot provide it. Assuring Child Support introduces the Child Support Assurance System, a remedy to this problem that is both feasible and affordable, a practical reform that is within the nation's grasp. "An extremely well-written and provocative book." —Eastern Economic Journal
Donna M. Lanclos writes about children on the school playgrounds of working-class Belfast, Northern Ireland, using their own words to show how they shape their social identities. The notion that children's voices and perspectives must be included in a work about childhood is central to the book. Lanclos explores children's folklore, including skipping rhymes, clapping games, and "dirty" jokes, from five Belfast primary schools (two Protestant, two Catholic, and one mixed). She listens for what she can learn about gender, family, adult-child interactions, and Protestant/Catholic tensions. Lanclos frequently notes violent themes in the folklore and conversations that indicate children are aware of the reality in which they live. But at the same time, children resist being marginalized by adults who try to shield them from this reality.
For Lanclos, children's experiences stimulate discussions about culture and society. In her words, "Children's everyday lives are more than just preparation for their futures, but are life itself."
At Play in Belfast is a volume in the Rutgers Series in Childhood Studies, edited by Myra Bluebond-Langner.